Lolly's Library's Reviews > Android Karenina

Android Karenina by Ben H. Winters
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May 24, 12

bookshelves: first-reads, literary-mash-up, steampunk
Read from May 28 to June 08, 2010 — I own a copy, read count: 1

My first thought upon finishing Android Karenina was that, had Tolstoy been aware of robots, androids, moon resorts, and magnetic grav trains, this is the book he'd have written. To my mind, the concept of robotics, with its sense of coldness and hardness and immovable logic, fits in perfectly with the idea of post-Tsar Russia; where bureaucracy and the welfare of the nation takes precedence over the welfare of the individual; where the sense of almost perpetual winter brings to mind the frigidity of metal gears and iron exoskeletons; where hidden passions burn just as hotly as the groznium engines driving the mechanical contraptions in this book.

As much I enjoyed the first Quirk books, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, they were quite obviously literary mash-ups, which, while amusing, would be somewhat jarring to read when the new storyline was introduced into the old, resulting in the occasional illogical scene. Android Karenina, on the other hand, flowed, for the most part, smoothly between the old story and the new. If high school kids were given a choice between reading this version and the original, we might be a more literate society, or at least more literature-curious. I would hope that anyone who hasn't read the original version would, upon finishing this book, do so, potentially opening the door to the discovery of a whole new world of literary possibilities, as I would hope would happen with all of the Quirk Books.

Personally, I have never felt a connection to any of the Russian authors and reading this novel, despite its somewhat "secondhand" rendition of the original, just reinforced that sense of alienation I have towards them and their literary creations. I understand the underlying despair which fuels Anna's story, but I cannot empathize with her. The other sympathetic character, Konstantin Levin, has moments of jealously which turn him into a despicable person, which makes me wonder, Are all men so insecure? So I can't say I'll be reading the original Anna Karenina anytime soon, but I'm not ruling out the possibility of trying it again. I used to be a picky eater, but I've forced myself to try foods I never used to like, only to find that, indeed, they actually taste good. Perhaps the same will be true of Russian novels.

Android Karenina is quite a lengthy tome, certainly not a casual read, much as is the original. But I hope potential readers won't be put off by this fact, as it is quite entertaining and, in my opinion, the best work put out by Ben H. Winters and Quirk Books so far.
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Reading Progress

05/29/2010 page 47
8.69%
05/30/2010 page 60
11.09% "My progress seems to be rather slow, I'm afraid."
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Comments (showing 1-23 of 23) (23 new)

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Lolly's Library So, I had to refresh my memory of the original novel (read many, many, many years ago) and so I used the time-tested, high-school-study method and watched the 2001 Masterpiece Theatre film. Wow. Anna was one high-strung, high-maintenence paranoiac! And I'm sorry, but it's so stupid to commit suicide over the fact that you believe someone has fallen out of love with you, with only your paranoid belief as proof. Granted, I'm writing from inexperience: I've never been in love. I'd like to think, though, that I'm smarter than that, and I certainly know I'm nowhere near as high-strung or high-maintenence as Anna. I've never been a fan of the Russian authors; their passion is so, well...foreign to me. I'm not sure that even the whimisical addition of steampunk elements will make me like Anna Karenina; however, it's too early to tell for sure. I will say, thought, when I started watching the movie, I had a brief moment of wondering where the robots were. LOL


message 2: by faeriemyst (new)

faeriemyst Sounds interesting, but I'll still probably attempt to read the original first (esp. since I have it handy :D). It makes me wonder how readers are to view this novel. Maybe you're not supposed to completely like or emphasize with the main character(s) but study them instead. I've heard Amber from Forever Amber can be a real bitch, but the book is still loved. Guess it depends on the story between the covers and obviously where the author is from. Honestly, I don't feel as thoughtful as I sounded. :P

There's nothing wrong with being picky, unless you snobbishly turn your nose up at certain books in a genre w/o giving them a real chance. *coughromancescough* LOL ;D I've become pickier over the last few years, which is a good thing since I tend to like, or at least experiment with, almost every genre.


Lolly's Library Well, sure, since you have it handy, it makes it easy to read it first. ;P Possibly, although I guess it depends on your viewpoint; there are some people for whom Anna is the ideal character and empathize with her completely. As I said, there's something about Russian authors which baffles me, something about their temperament, I guess; I can never get close to their characters. Maybe it's my Anglo-Saxon mind--it won't let me understand the Slavic mindset. :D You're sure doing a heck of job at pretending! LOL

Gee, hint much? :P I read books with romance in them, that should count for something. It's not my fault that I keep trying romance novels which turn out to be sucky. LOL I've been trying to break out of my comfort-zone, although I've always had a rather eclectic range of tastes anyway; there are still some genres, like war-based books, either fiction or non, or social-political commmentary types that I just can't get a taste for, though. I guess I'm not "grown-up" enough (which is just fine by me). ;D


message 4: by faeriemyst (new)

faeriemyst I've never read any Russian authors but hated the movie Doctor Zhivago. I just did not find it romantic at all and hated the two leads. Thank you, my brain was actually being very difficult at creating coherent sentences that day. :)

It's not a hint really, I just couldn't help teasing you. ;P Nah, romance is in everything, frankly it can get on my nerves because some stories are best without that included. Romances in movies get more anger/annoyance/eye-rolling out of me though. There are many un-romance books that suck too, people tend to forget that. Maybe if you compare genres, romances would have more stinkers than another. Who knows? Yeah, I steer clear of those too; not my cuppa. Also included are self-help (I'm way beyond) and westerns (although I do want to try one out sometime). Or maybe you're too grown-up for them? Hmm, food for thought. :D


Lolly's Library I remember (slightly) having to read a couple of them for high school English (something you missed out on, you lucky dog!); I can't remember exactly which titles or authors because I've blocked them out, I just remember slogging through them with dread. Granted, that dread may also have had something to do with the fact that, as English reading projects, we had to dissect the books to the Nth degree, which is never fun. :( You're welcome, although, and I hate to say this, my brain is normally incoherent which may have been why your sentences sounded quite normal to me. ;P

I know, I don't mind. :) I know, except for a select few genres, romance is in everything, usually for the worst. It seems as though publishers think that no one will read a book without some sort of love story (or lust story) tacked on. And, for me, the only romantic movies I can stomach are romantic comedies, preferably ones with more comedy than romance. Ones like The Notebook or Dear John--basically anything based on Nicholas Sparks--make me roll my eyes so hard, they almost fall out of my head. :P It's possible romances have more than their fair share of stinkers, maybe because they seem to have cornered the market on crappy authors. People think writing romance novels is easy (yes, writing crappy romance is very easy), so it seems like everybody does it. I don't know. Yeah, those are genres I avoid, too, although I've always been curious about the westerns of Zane Grey; if I did read any westerns, they'd be his, or, more likely, some sort of mash-up, like a steampunk western. Ooh, that is something to chew on. *munch, munch* That'll keep me occupied for the rest of the night. ;D


message 6: by faeriemyst (new)

faeriemyst Yay me! :P Oh, I hated doing that, I actually didn't do too well at Reading because I didn't like or care enough to dissect stories and books to the degree the teachers wanted. Mostly, I got it, so I wondered why I had to answer these stupid, obvious questions in essay form. Oh, I was able to create semi-coherent sentences, it just took me at least three times as long. For one of them, I forget which reply, it took me two-three minutes to figure out how to string the words together that made some type of sense. I think I took a break and replied to something else before coming back it was so bad. 8O

It's pretty much all romances, comedic or not that feel the rather of the faerie. LMAO Most romantic comedies these days are so stupid, I know not to even bother by watching the trailer. I liked A Walk to Remember by Sparks, the book more than the movie, but besides reading at Nights in Rodanthe, which was sorta forgettable, I don't believe I've ever seen or read any others. I know, that's why I feel bad for romance authors sometime, most work really hard and they don't get much respect; it's unfair. That's why, even if I never read romance again, I wouldn't ever belittle the genre, authors, or readers. I do think anyone could write a crappy romance full of purple prose. ;P I have a Zane Grey around here somewhere (meaning it's in an unknown box :D), I think it's more of a swashbuckler though, but I could be wrong about that. A steampunk western sounds awesome. Did you have a nice munchfest? :)


message 7: by Lolly's Library (last edited Jun 16, 2010 11:10AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lolly's Library :D I never understood why we had to dissect every book down to how many the's and a's the author used; it seemed so stupid and pointless. I was like you, I understood the book without having to go into such detail--and if, for some reasons, I didn't pick up on the inner agony implicit in the author's choice of adjectives, well, then, tough. ;P Ah, I see... That is bad. :[

I know, that's why I stick with tried-and-true romantic comedies; the ones released nowadays are either sexist and unfunny or slapstick and unfunny. (Not that slapstick in itself is unfunny, it's just that no one seems to know how to do it properly anymore--it's a lost art, I think.) All I know of the Sparks movie adaptations are from what I've seen of the trailers; I just can't handle that kind of syrupy, unrealistic stuff, it makes me gag. I try not belittle the romance genre or the people who write or read within it (although I have a hard time with people who only read Harlequin/Silhouette books; seriously, I have a family member who reads nothing but those kind of books); I may tease a bit, but I don't think anything less of those people. To each his or her own taste. :) Well, sure anyone can, we have tons of examples of people who do, violently purple prose and all. :D Of course you do, why am I not surprised? LOL I know, doesn't it? I may have to work on an idea, although I have no clue where to start. Oh, yes, I was full for several hours afterward. ;D


message 8: by faeriemyst (new)

faeriemyst Exactily! Let's not forget offensive, and not in a good way, humor. Well we don't want you gagging all over the place, it can't lead to good things. ;P I'm sure Harlequin/Silhouette has some good authors, and at least they're reading, most people don't (which is a horror I try to turn a blind eye too, but it's kinda hard to ignore). And I think the point of the books is to have a quick, happy read. What's wrong with that? I solemnly swear I'll try to say I have a book in a box somewhere, or the equivalent, in the future. :D Yes, do work on an idea or two. You may have to read some westerns and do some homework on the subject first though. :) That's good to know, food for thought is always calorie-free. ;P


Lolly's Library True, true. No, it certainly won't lead to good things; sorry, but a technicolor yawn isn't my idea of fun. :P Oh, I know, and I know many mainstream authors started out in Harlequin, etc., and, yes, at least they're reading--I say much the same thing about people who only read Manga. It just makes me shudder that they have no wish to explore any other kind of book. However, like you, I shudder even more at those people who don't read at all, and, sadly, there are a great many of those types. What I want to know is, how do they manage? 8{ Yes, a quick, happy read is good, but I think, in order to take adavantage of a book's potential, a book should also expand the mind. It doesn't have to be in a straining, "OMG this is like homework!" kind of way, but when you read only one kind of book, how much exploring can you do? Besides, wouldn't it get boring as hell? :/ Oh, definitely, I'd have to do some major homework; not only westerns, but some good (and possibly bad, so I know what to avoid) examples of steampunk as well, to familiarize myself. :) Yup, plus it provides lots of fiber. ;P


message 10: by faeriemyst (new)

faeriemyst I don't know how those people manage not to (want to) read. I admit, I get where I don't want to read, but most of the time I just can't concentrate on reading, I hate it and don't know what to do really. I'm trying my best. And yeah, I really would think it would get boring but I like to think that there are more people read more than one kind of book that there are who do. Is it me or are my sentences going in confusing circles? At least, I'm confusing myself. LOL :D I don't think I do much mind expansion with what I read, but I also mainly read for entertainment, so if I get that, I'm pretty happy. Yes, I figured you would have to do that too. :) Fiber's good for you, hope it has calcium also. ;P


Lolly's Library The idea of not wanting to read is completely alien to me. I can understand the situation of not knowing what to read or not being able to read due to whatever reason, but still, the urge to read remains. But to have the mindset that books are boring or stupid or a waste of time? Insanity! 8O That's my hope, too; I'd rather a person read only one kind of book than not read at all, that's for sure. I just think your focus is slipping; you need to stick it back in place. LOL ;) It doesn't have to be mind-expanding insofar as you've learned a new language or figured out physics, but every book should at least introduce a new concept or a new way of thinking or it should at least make you say, "Hmm, never thought of it that way." Or maybe it's just me; when I read, I look for new ways to present old ideas and build stories around them. It's especially good if I disagree with how the author has presented a subject--"I can do better than that!" I cry, and my brain starts working. But entertainment, plain and simple, is a good thing, too. ;D Not so much; food for thought is like eating cardboard: lots of roughage, not much else. :D (And no, I haven't munched on any moving boxes lately, I'm just being silly. LOL)


message 12: by Lolly's Library (last edited Jun 18, 2010 12:23PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lolly's Library You know, I've been thinking about the steampunk western idea and have realized others have gotten to it first. The movie Wild, Wild West (horribly panned as it was) would definitely fall into the steampunk category; even the original TV show would, since it's categorized as Sci-Fi Western. Another TV show The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. counts. Plus, there are several novels, comics, and games which fall into the Weird West genre, which bleeds into Steampunk Western. I'm late to the party (like normal). :P


message 13: by faeriemyst (last edited Jun 19, 2010 01:18AM) (new)

faeriemyst You never have days where you don't want to read? I would think even the most voracious reader out there would have that every now and again. Even before I had those days. Maybe you should think of it another way, as hard as that may be. :P I think golf is stupid and boring but golfers would probably think I was crazy. It's all on how you look at things. Focus, what's tha- ooh, *squeal* glittery dust floating lazily in the air! LOL I see. To me it sounds as if you read as a writer more than as a reader. Glad to hear you haven't munched on any boxes lately, which leads to the question.... How often do you have a box snack? ;P

Yeah, I've come across Steampunk Westerns before (mainly through Amazon), but not too many and none I could remember to list as examples. Except the third Back to the Future had those elements, although probably not technically Steampunk because of the time travel. Hmm...it's been so long since I've seen The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. that I don't remember the Steampunkiness of it, but I only caught episodes every now and then. I don't think you're too late. Heck, I don't believe I've ever even heard of the Weird West genre before.


Lolly's Library Honestly, no, I can't think of anytime I've not wanted to read. I read before going to bed, I read while visting the loo (sorry for the TMI), I even read while I'm watching TV; I sit at the doctor's office and wish I'd brought a book (I don't usually take one beecause I know my time will be spent filling out ten tons of paperwork). I have times when I don't know what I want to read and switch books about twenty different times, but that's about it. :/ What, you want me to look at non-readers from a non-reading perspective, to try and understand their POV? Impossible! I gave you the people who only read one kind of book; that was a magnanimous gesture on my part. And golf is stupid, except for miniature golf--that's fun. LOL :D LMAO at your glittery dust interlude. I do; I can't pinpoint when I started reading as a writer more than a reader, but it's been many years now. Box snack. *groan, eye roll* ;D

I have to say, from what I've researched, there aren't many novels out there; Steampunk Westerns seem to be more abundant in comics and movies/TV. Yeah, Back the the Future III counts more as Sci-Fi Western than Steampunk, exactly because of the time travel. I hadn't heard of Weird West either until I started looking up Steampunk Western--good ol' Wikipedia. ;) I'm still mulling over the idea; I am late, but only the goobers show up early. The fabulous people come late and make an entrance. :D


message 15: by faeriemyst (new)

faeriemyst Hmmm....I can feel a pseudo-psychological analysis coming on but I think I'll spare you. ;P Oh, I cannae take thar TMIs! Eek! LOL I'm usually too antsy to read at doctors' offices so it doesn't matter if I bring something or not. I can usually sift through magazines, but everytime I finally find something interesting in one, it's time for me to "see" the doctor. I usually can't read in the mornings because I'm slow to wake-up, usually grumpy, and it's just best I don't try. :D Yes, Lupine forbid you try to look at something from a different angle. LOL Mini golf is fun, kinda-sorta makes me want to go play, but then I'd have to get dressed. Enh, oh well. ;P Yes, I had to go bat at the dust. Clearly I hang around cats too much. :P See, that's why I don't need, or necessarily want sometimes, to expand my mind when I read. Occasionally yes, but looking back at my last ten or so reads, have I learned something from any of them? Maybe, I have no clue. How would I even know?

What about the people who come late but enter through the back door and then proceed to hide in dark, dusty corners? LOL :D


Lolly's Library Oh no, not a pseudo-psychological analysis! Thank you for sparing me! LOL When I'm the one seeing the doctor, I rarely if ever bring a book, for the same reasons, and if I'm there with someone else, I think it's rude for me to read while they're fidgeting. I'm not quite as grumpy/dopey when I wake up, so I'm able to read while I eat breakfast. I don't know why or how I read so much, I just do. It's a character flaw I suppose. ;P That's right, because you know I'm so closed-minded and unwilling to sympathize with anyone else's POV. LOL Well, yeah, having to get dressed is a downer. :D No, you? Hang around cats too much? I'd have never guessed! I don't know, just by an expansion of your general knowledge? Learning stuff from books is an insidious thing: you never know you have until some new bit of trivia pops out. ;D

Oh, they don't count at all, dahling. LOL


message 17: by faeriemyst (new)

faeriemyst You're welcome, you can start worshipping me now. :D Unfortunately, my mom can read at the doctors, so I sometimes get a little miffed. Why should she get to relax while I can't? Not fair. LOL Well, actually, I don't usually wake up grumpy, I get that way after I've been up and the cats are driving me crazy wanting food, which they don't get until eight o'clock. Sometimes I wake up completely fine, but I am not a morning person, even when I woke up in the afternoon; so it takes me a while to wake up and I generally want to be left alone for an hour or two afterward. And excuse me, dopey? I don't think so, only occasionally am I dopey in the morning, thankyouverymuch! ;P I am not even going to respond to your "character flaw." I wish I could read all the time. *pouts* Yes, as we've established, you're a big meanie, so of course you're close-minded too. LOL :D Hmm, maybe I have learned something, I don't know. We'll see. :)

Oh, so I don't count at all? Eh, better to never be noticed than noticed for all the wrong reasons I suppose. LOL :D


Lolly's Library Haven't you started smelling the incense I've been burning in your honor? LOL Oh, well, I guess it's better than both of you being jumpy and twitchy, although, you might get into the doctor faster if you started freaking out the other patients with your behavior. :D Ah, I see. Well, I'm not a morning person either; how sore I feel upon getting up is in direct correlation to how pissy I act afterwards. And I'm the same about wanting to be left alone; that's why I'm glad I can eat my breakfast by myself, so I can have that time to adjust and prepare to interact with people later on. :P So sorry, but it was easier to stick with the whole seven dwarves theme. So you'rewelcomeverymuch! ;P Fine, don't respond, I was being facetious anyway. LOL Yup, yup, that's me all over: mean, close-minded, unfair, just an all round bad person. :D I guess we will. ;)

Nope, not if you scurry off to hide in the corner like an abandoned dust bunny. LOL I suppose so--at least that's some consolation. ;D


message 19: by faeriemyst (new)

faeriemyst Now that you mention it, there is something wafting my way. :D Hmm, there's a thought. LOL Yes, that's exactly how I am, and if I don't get my me morning time, I can be very pissy. Of course my mom would probably say I'm pissy all the time, but she's hardly the best person to ask. ;D *ptthhhbb* Take that! Fine, I won't respond. So there! LOL

I like it in the dark corner, my imaginary friends hang there and we have a gay ol' time. :P Yes, it is. ;)


Lolly's Library Uh-huh, the smell of myrrh and b.s. LMAO ;D I don't know...you know what they say, mother always knows best. :D But, but, by saying you won't respond, you just responded! So there to you! LOL

With Dino and Barney and Bamm-Bamm and Pebbles? ;)


message 21: by faeriemyst (new)

faeriemyst Oh, har har. *rolls eyes* Actually, if you recall our possible past life discussion, I'm usually the mother of my mother (if you can work that out), so I know best. ;P Not really, other than saying I'm not going to respond to that, I really had nothing to say. :D

Uh, no, they aren't imaginary, they're cartoon characters. Duh. Get your facts straight. ;D


Lolly's Library ;D Oh, yes, I'd forgotten about that. So I guess you would know best. ;P I know, I was just being a dork about it (something I really can't help but manage to control most of the time :D).

Excuuuuuse me. I'm so sorry, didn't mean to offend with my confusion between imaginary and cartoon characters. LOL


message 23: by faeriemyst (new)

faeriemyst You bet I would! :P Yes, controlling dorkiness is clearly not possible with you. LOL

*sniff* Yes, I would hope so. ;P


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