Friday, 4 July 2014
Books i've been reading...
" Were they really so stupid that they didn't understand that stupidity was race neutral?"
The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson is one of my most recent reads. Nombeko Mayeki is a young, intelligent girl who's life is wasted working at a latrine facility in Soweto. Her race and gender ensure that she is forced to work in the most menial posts, managed by men who are stupid and greedy.
A road accident involving Nombeko and a drunken engineer changed her life. She was made to work for the engineer, who just happened to be running a project linked to South Africa's national security. As months turned into years, Nombeko proved herself useful enough to stay alive and gain information that might just save a national disaster.
She finds herself on the run with two resourceful Chinese sisters and twins who exist as one person. Oh and she may just be able to save the King of Sweden if the secret service don't catch her first.
On reflection I was fortunate enough to have read this novel before reading Jonasson's award wining tale The Hundred Year Old Man who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared. The problem with writing a highly acclaimed novel is that everything else is compared to it rather than being judged as a piece of work in isolation.
I enjoy the slight quirkiness of Jonasson's characters who border on being completely unrealistic yet the back stories given to the reader make their ridiculous lives seem completely plausible.
Despite having several different characters whose lives intertwine, I never felt at anytime that Jonasson remained with a particular story for too long- the novel had a good pace so that details weren't forgotten. Issues with gender and race are touched upon subtly but this wasn't the focus of the story. Despite the misfortune of the characters- the book was fun and light-hearted. The characters were all trying to carve out a normal life for themselves but circumstance was holding them back.
Although the novel was fun I didn't find it to be as 'laugh out loud' funny as previous reviews have suggested. It was more pleasant than hilarious for me.
Jonasson's writing style isn't what I would normally enjoy. I ordinarily engage with authors who write very detailed works but the characters stories were more than enough, too much detail would have drawn out the length of the novel and the enjoyment and quirkiness would have been lost.
So what's the verdict? if you enjoy novels filled with details of quirky characters and almost unbelievable tales then this is for you.