I have never read Anna Karenina, but I'm beginning to be tempted. Russian literature can be a heavy undertaking, as my symbolism-laden senior year literature class could attest to. It took us several years to get through Crime & Punishment (or it felt like it, anyway), because we spent so much time analyzing everything that we had no real ability to just appreciate the literature.
Tolstoy is intimidating. Anna Karenina is a very large book. It's brick-sized. Brick-sized books frighten many readers. I had no intention of picking up any Russian literature this summer...
...but then I saw Android Karenina at my local library. Those of you who are familiar with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (and hey, anybody hear anything about the movie starring Natalie Portman? Can you say boo-yah!?) or Sense and Sensibility and Seamonsters should grab a copy of this newest Ben H. Winters phenomenon, because it is great.
As the back of the book cover says, Android Karenina is set in an awesomer Russia.
The back of the book cover is not lying to you.
Fans of Winters, Russian literature, steampunk and/or robots would be remiss in not picking this up. It takes the Tolstoy, which is already classic, and pumps it up a notch. As a Star Wars fan and an avid reader, Android Karenina is a huge treat.
The best thing about Winters' mash-ups, as far as I'm concerned, is that they encourage readers to approach classic literature with an open mind. Yes, you get zombies and seamonsters and robots in the mix -but you're also getting the literature. The rich traditions of hundreds of years of writing are being more widely read (and besides, they're much more funny than the authors ever intended).
Even if the books aren't the pure literature of the original, they make a great read, and they get more reluctant readers interested in the writing. Android Karenina is no exception.