Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe
The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden: Jonas Jonasson, June 2—18, 2014
My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊
Jonas Jonasson is back with a new barmy tale. The Girl Who Saved The King of Sweden has much in common with The Hundred Year Old Man: an ensemble cast of hitherto unrelated characters who find themselves in the middle of a bizarre situation with numerous persons on their tail.
This, however, is no bad thing. With Jonasson, you know what to expect. So successful was Hundred in 2012 that more of the same is very welcome indeed.
It stars the titular Girl, South African Nombeko, who is saddled with an atomic bomb that she needs to dispose of. Joining her in this quest are Swede Holgar, who does not officially exist; his identical twin brother, also Holgar, who exists and plans to do away with the monarchy; this Holgar’s girlfriend, Celestine, mostly referred to as “the angry young woman”; three Chinese sisters skilled in fraud and an American Vietnam deserter who is convinced the CIA will come for him. In hot pursuit, among others, are the Israeli secret service.
A plethora of outlandish supporting characters completes the line up.
The trick with Jonasson is to suspend disbelief and go with the flow. Part of the fun comes from the utter ridiculousness of the developments, the misfortune of the coincidences and the ever-growing nightmare on the characters’ collective hands. This isn’t supposed to be believable; it’s supposed to be entertaining.
One of the greatest features of this book is its sheer unpredictability. In a moment, Jonasson will completely change the course of what you thought was happening with an unexpected plot development or sudden death. There’s no point second guessing this one, you are kept on your toes.
Again, the book is quite episodic and each chapter has a tendency to relay individual self-contained incidents which form part of the whole. Although this approach is fun, particularly with Jonasson’s humorous, tongue-in-cheek narration, it prevents the book from generating urgency and it would benefit perhaps from a bit of a trim. The incessant need of the author to provide backstories for every character is also a little wearisome after a while.
Even without the finessing suggested above, Sweden is another delightful romp that will definitely keep you entertained.