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Ratings and Book Reviews ()

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4.2 out of 5
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  • Great Historical YA Novel

    Wow. This book has a little bit of everything -- science, Scotland, colonial times, gothic horror, mystery, intrigue, and romance! Also, the cover is absolutely gorgeous. Hazel is a well-born teenage girl who only wants to study anatomy and become a surgeon - which, back in 1817, is not as noble a profession as it is considered today, with them being viewed as little more than butchers. However, it being 1817, academic pursuits are almost impossible for Hazel. Instead, she is expected to become formally engaged to and marry her cousin (ew) Bernard Almont, a future viscount. When her attempts to attend anatomy lectures as a man are thwarted, she makes a deal with the famous Dr. Beecham - if she's able to pass the Physcian's Licensing Examination, he'll give her an apprenticeship. However, in order to learn all she'll need to know in order to pass the test, she'll need bodies to dissect. Enter Jack Currer, a young resurrection man. Working two jobs (theater by day and body snatcher by night) to make ends meet, he meets Hazel one day when she is trying to sneak into the anatomy surgical theater to attend a lecture by the famed Dr. Beecham. He runs into her after she strikes her deal with the doctor, and agrees to bring her a dead body. During all of this, poor people throughout Edinburgh are dying from the mysterious Roman Plague, which had ravaged the city two years previous. However, some of these victims may have been felled by something more nefarious... Due to circumstances, Hazel and Jack team up to procure her bodies, and they grow closer. There's a graveyard makeout session and everything! Hazel also ends up using her family manor as a hospital for the poor, helping patients with various ailments (including the plague) while continuing her studies. This was an excellent YA book. Hazel is a strong young woman who is determined to get what she wants despite the entire world telling her she can't have it. The book is largely about her journey and her love of anatomy and treating sick people. Jack is also the ultimate co-conspirator/love interest, as he is very supportive of Hazel and is willing to help her achieve her dreams. To avoid spoilers, I won't go too much into the mystery part of the book, because I don't want to ruin it. While I did guess who was ultimately behind things, I did not expect everything that was revealed. The ending was also very unexpected and surprising. Overall, this was a very engaging story. My main quibble with it is that parts of it seemed a bit rushed and not as fully developed as other parts. The ending was also a bit rushed, with things happening very quickly, which was a little jarring after the slower build of the rest of the book. I encourage people to read this book, as it was very good. I can't wait for what the author does next! Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of the book. This review is honest and all thoughts are my own.

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  • A revolutionary and bright heroine

    POV: Third-person, Omniscient Time and Location: 1800s, Edinburgh Hazel Sinnett is an aspiring surgeon or a woman of science if society will allow her. Her interest lies in surgical dissection and exploration of the human anatomy. Jack Currer is a resurrection man (a "body snatcher" or a person who secretly exhumes dead bodies to sell them) who bumps into Hazel in one of his business dealings. With an outbreak with no known cure and unexplained deaths, Hazel and Jack seem to have stumbled to the answers that they don't know will change them forever. The book focuses on the pursuit of knowledge - namely, the human anatomy and the mystery of the disappearances around Edinburgh. The love aspect is only a far third, though a bit misleading to assume it's the focal point - based on the title. I want to point out that the "love" theme is not the main focus versus the first. Given this is for a YA audience, the love scenes are more conservative based on the era and instead dive into the emotional turmoil and development than the physical. The human body is explored, researched, and well written. The author writes the beautiful and ugly side science, progress, power, and money. The book talks about the new advances and "improvements" in science that are wonderful but come at a high trade-off. Eye-opening and hopeful to some, but most cruel when greed comes in. It reminds us that evolution has a price. This pursuit affects everyone and translates to a more significant societal impact of corruption and "framing." There is much emphasis on the disparity between the superior versus sub-par gender, AND "haves" and "have-nots" are evident and accurate to the time. It worked me up, but I appreciate the author's purpose in stressing those and the main characters' frustrations. I love how the author developed each character effectively and kept the story's pace dynamic with a few historical explanations randomly placed. The characters were relatable and made me feel for them with each "hard decision" they had to make in the dark and mysterious situation they faced. I love Hazel! She is way ahead of her time, and she was determined to follow her path in the medical field. The book showed how she approached each hurdle and made the most of her situation. The biggest surprise for me is the ending. It stumped, shooked, and kept me up with overanalyzing everything in the book. I even went back to re-read a few chapters before the end. I don't know how I feel about how things ended. I am torn - should I be happy or sad with how things turned out? I do not know. One part of me was like, "WOW...that was a total 360-degrees," while another side was "OH NO, it cannot be this" on the love story. Even with the above comment, it is not to say that I did not enjoy the book. I still rated the book high because I enjoyed the book as a whole - happily devouring the in-depth relationship building, world-building, and character development aspects of it. I did like the Epilogue that shrouded the ending with even more mystery, even if it made me sad. Overall, Anatomy: A Love Story is a book of a revolutionary and bright heroine, Hazel, who goes off into a higher purpose than initially seen. The book feels like an ode to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein at the start, but it later progresses into something higher and a category of its own on storytelling. She discovers her passion and confidence through science and solves one of the biggest conspiracies of the time. It is full of mystery and suspense at each turn, even if we get both protagonists' POVs. The writing is witty, descriptive, and captivating, with some British slang that is easy to decipher. The story explores the price of knowledge and the ugly side of pursuing progress. The stereotypical connotations of women in society stand out and balance with a few surprising twists that make it ingeniously captivating.

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  • Excellent Voice Covers for Some Narrative Weakness

    A little mixed on this one. I loved the voice but am unsure the tone/atmosphere matched to where we needed to end up at the end. There was a lot going on and I'm not sure it all tied together. The tension didn't necessarily feel like it built and for having "a love story" in the title, the romance felt underdeveloped. Still, it was highly readable and moved and the voice covered for a lot.

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