Have you ever come across a book that is just a perfectly pleasant read? Not groundbreaking or inventive or something that will stand the test of time for generations to come, but just a story that is interesting, entertaining, and well executed by a talented and skilled hand and mind. It seems like the modern trend for any and all media is to be the next big thing. There has always been a commercial and capitalistic aspect to artistic creation, particularly art intended for mass consumption, but the most recent manifestation of that has been that the new thing, whether it is a film, television show, album, book, etc., needs to break records, launch entire franchises, and be the next biggest thing for at least the weekend to justify its existence. But most media simply cannot do this.
Now, I am not suggesting that Dana Schwartz (the author) or her publisher or the various entities with a vested interest in the book, Anatomy: A Love Story, are not hoping for a few record sale numbers or to top some bestsellers lists or even potentially getting a Netflix or HBOMax streaming deal for a live adaptation. Obviously, these people want the book and story to be very successful; however, the actual story is not anything new. It is a Gothic love story nearly to the very definition. I suppose the aspect of the protagonists being teenagers though that has very different connotation and meaning during the time period of the book. The inclusion of medicine, science, and science fiction are all key elements of the genre and, like the rest of the book, executed well. The PR campaign for the book was pretty standard and seemed to mostly be derived from the name and success of Schwartz as a writer and social media personality for most of the press and hype surrounding the book.
It probably seems like I am being critical or harsh toward the book, but I swear I am not. It was a very easy, enjoyable read that took me a few hours spread across two or three days. Honestly, I probably could have finished the entire book in a single setting if life and time had allowed; it was that easy and engaging a read. The love story between Hazel Sinnett and Jack Currer, the two protagonists, was cute and heartwarming and slightly bittersweet, but also believable and understandable in its progression and conclusion. The characters read and felt like actual characters with motivations and purpose and mistakes that made sense for their developments. The dialogue and descriptions and imagery was obviously done by someone with talent and experience in writing and developing fiction. Again, the story was utterly and completely well done. I just don’t think this particular book is going to create massive intense fandoms nor have huge cultural impact, but I also don’t think that was anyone’s intention.
Sometimes it is more than enough to just create and execute a well written and well done piece of art that won’t change the world or create a movement but will entertain millions and will probably even become a few people’s favorite book or film or song or whatever. Most books will be forgotten or lost after a few months or years for a myriad of reasons, but most often it is simply because they were so benign or poorly done that hardly anyone engaged with them. I doubt Anatomy: A Love Story will rise to the heights of great Gothic Romance or Romantic (both capital and lowercase ‘r’) or even Young Adult literature, but I do believe it will be a story that is still around and read next year and many more to come. If you are looking for a comforting read, then I do highly recommend Anatomy: A Love Story. It won’t usurp Austen or Stewart, but it will be a pleasant afternoon or two of reading.