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Handling the Undead

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  8,267 Ratings  ·  941 Reviews
Something very peculiar is happening in Stockholm. There's a heatwave on and people cannot turn their lights out or switch their appliances off. Then the terrible news breaks. In the city morgue, the dead are waking up...
Paperback, 384 pages
Published 2009 by Text Publishing (first published 2005)
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In this book, the corpses of the recently dead in Sweden become reanimated which leads to numerous legal, political and ethical issues when it comes to dealing with folks who aren’t technically alive. What kind of dilemmas would this cause society? For example, if this actually happened in Stockholm, I’m sure that that the publishers of Stieg Larsson’s books would chain his zombified ass to a desk and let him bang on the keys of a laptop until they got enough to put out a new bestseller, The Gir ...more
Oct 31, 2014 Fabian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exceptional, morbid, & even quite beautiful. This one forms a trifecta with two other grand titans of modern horror lit I've read of late, "The Troop" by Nick Cutter and "The Girl Next Door" by Jack Ketchum. Alright, alright, I was also mightily impressed by the military-novel-slash-zombie-epic "World War Z"... so that's quite a few there! For a snobby reader, I sure am blessed.

The eeriness in this one raises hairs and activates good ol' goosebumps. The relationships being tested as the natu
Jan 21, 2011 RandomAnthony rated it it was ok
Ok, I'm giving up on page 146 of Handling the Undead and giving the book two stars. Sure, I only read about half the novel. I don't care. I feel like I can make the call. Why, you ask?

I picked up this book off the “new fiction” library shelf when a woman was checking out about 14,000 DVDs and I didn't want to stand behind her and wait. Last year I read and loved Let the Right One In, for which this is author is best known, and I was hoping Handling the Undead was just as moving and innovative ex
Paul Bryant
Mar 22, 2017 Paul Bryant rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
Another Swedish gift to the world – after lutfisk, Ikea, Abba and the girl with the tattoo on her arse, now we get nice zombies. Well, these ones are not that nice, I guess. They don’t want to eat you, so that’s a plus, but they have limited conversation and really their concept of personal hygiene leaves something to be desired. But like Paul Simon said they’re all right in a sort of limited way for an off-night. In fact I was behind these zombies all the way until the last quarter of the story ...more
Mar 03, 2009 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Christina by: Weekendavisen
Shelves: fiction, 2009
A butterfly beats its wings somewhere in the universe - and an electrical field lowers itself over Stockholm, the capital of Sweden, and causes a piercing headache in everyone as well as making it impossible to turn of any electrical appliances or machines. When the field lifts, something has changed - the recently deceased have come back to life... - and they want to come home.

That's the premise in John Ajvide Lindqvist's book. This wouldn't normally be a book I would read - much less buy - but
2.5 stars

As a huge fan of Let the Right One In, I can confidently tell you Handling the Undead is not nearly as good as John Ajvide Lindqvist's debut novel. This book is lifeless and barely kicking, just like the zombies it is about.

Now, of course I have to give the author credit for the fresh premise. Lindqvist's zombies are not violent and are not monsters. The story is not about them going after people to chomp on their flesh. Rather, the author raises questions: if the undead are not aggress
Apr 04, 2010 Becky rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Insomniacs
I really enjoyed Lindqvist's "Let The Right One In". I liked the feel of it - the tone and darkness and sadness. I liked the immediate connection with the characters, that, while a little awkward at first, smoothed out and became effortless not long into the story. I liked the multi-level creepiness, and then the flat out horror. It was good. There were some issues with the writing, which could come down to translation, but were distracting nonetheless.

Everything that I liked about that book is
Joe Valdez
Feb 14, 2014 Joe Valdez rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rob Zombie, Deadheads, gravely concerned readers
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 12, 2010 Paula rated it it was amazing
‘Let the right one in’ also by John Ajvide Lindqvist is one of my favourite reads of this year, a remarkable story, not just a vampire story but so much more. ‘Handling the Undead’ is just as good, another amazing story from John Ajvide Lindqvist.

‘Handling the Undead’ begins in Stockholm on a night when the weather is heavy and everyone can feel that something is about to happen and it does, in the worse way imaginable, people who have been dead for two months are returning from the dead, the g
The Swedish nation really is exceptionally open minded when it comes to the dead rising.


This book sucks.
I have the same basic problem with it as I did Let the Right one In -Lindqvist simply isn't that good as a writer, or they are badly translated. Most likely both. The text doesn't flow as naturally as it could and the storyline is avarage (stupid more like). Maybe my standard of Horror is too high after all the King books I've read (or after the class on Horror I t
Jul 04, 2012 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Monkey Paw fans
Preface to review - I'm not a zombie fan. I'm specist that way.

This isn't the Walking Dead. Thank god. If you liked "The Monkey's Paw", you should give this book a try, for it harkens more to that anything else.

In the city of Stockholm (beautiful city btw) and only in the city of Stockholm, some dead people have come back to life, maybe. Kinda. It could be the second coming who knows.

This book because it is a microchasm. Lindqvist keeps the focus on a select few, each of whom has a lost a family
Aug 10, 2009 Jo rated it liked it
It took me a long time to get into this. I was expecting murderous zombies and plenty of action, but this book was more about the emotions of loss than the flesh hungry, risen dead. Once I came to terms with that fact I started to enjoy it more. Around the half way point I considered giving up but I decided to carry on and take it for what it is. This book is nothing life changing or spectacular but it's ok. I thought he did a good job of capturing grief and the speculation about why it was happ ...more
Oct 23, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it
Fantastic study on how people deal with death and dying. Not a typical zombie apocalypse story. A strange electrical current occurs and about 2000 of the recently departed are returning home. According to a character Flora when asked by her brother about what the dead are like, she replies "They're nice." In the end, it's not that simple.

Difficult to read, weighty themes and topics. Not a light hearted read at all.

Ultimately a human story about loss and how to deal with it. Certainly not an acti
[Name Redacted]
Jun 09, 2010 [Name Redacted] rated it really liked it
It is inevitable that John Ajvide Lindqvist's second novel will be compared to his first; "Let The Right One In" was an international best-seller and twice made into popular feature films. Readers who are looking for more of the same will be disappointed, but not because this novel is somehow inferior or less ambitious than the first. They will be disappointed because they are trying to read his first novel again. They will not be interested in what Lindqvist is writing now, and they will be mis ...more
DeAnna Knippling
Jan 02, 2011 DeAnna Knippling rated it it was amazing
A strange, hard-to-describe book.

It started slowly; it has multiple POVs (which I normally am less than enthusiastic about); it's not about zombies (vs. the undead) until the very end of the book; I wasn't quite sure what the book was about, although it was definitely about something; it should have felt like a pretentious literary interpretation of a pop subject but didn't.

Suddenly, for no reason, there's a heat wave in Sweden, electrical appliances don't work the way they should, and the newly
Nov 03, 2010 christa rated it liked it
A very important lesson was learned while reading "Handling the Undead" by John Ajvide Lindqvist: Just because a Swedish zombie novel is not the Swedish zombie novel I wanted to read, nor the one I thought I was reading, does not mean it isn't a decent Swedish zombie novel.

This probably applies to even things that are not Swedish zombie novels. Consider what it is and is, instead of what it isn't and isn't meant to be. I think I heard that on "Top Chef," which seems a little think-y for reality
Daniel Russell
Let’s see if the beginning of this review can sound just like every other…

John Ajvide Lindqvist is the shooting star of the Swedish horror literature scene, after his vampire novel, Let the Right One In, caught attention after a rather touching, intelligent and brutal film adaption. This turned many readers to the book, this reviewer included, and it was my selected read of 2010. In an industry saturated with mundane vampire novels, Lindqvist did wonders, creating a bleak and depressing book tha
Jul 13, 2010 F.R. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first two-thirds of ‘Handling the Undead’ are brilliant. Rather than go the traditional Romero route with his zombie story, Lindqvist tries to present the tale almost within real life parameters.

After a heat-wave and a surge of electricity, the recently deceased of Sweden start to rise. There is chaos, particularly at the hospitals, and the apparatus of state is forced to move in quickly (and clumsily) to sort out the mess. But these zombies are not flesh-eating, brain-craving monsters. They
Paulo "paper books always" Carvalho
A good horror story that lets you inside some interesting concept.

After a freak eletric event, some people around the capital of Sweden start rising from their graves. But, if you think this is a zombie story you are correct, but not the kind of zombies you are used. This zombies do not feed on people but are just there. Some things start happening, like people getting tired around them, or able to talk to one another in their minds and even reading their emotions.

But, afterwards, as the story p
Nov 26, 2014 Hudson rated it it was amazing
Shelves: horror, best-in-2014
Wow...this was not what I was expecting at all. I started reading this book knowing that it was about zombies but had no idea what the story would be like. This is a far cry from your average zombie story and there is very little violence or gore, the zombies here are mostly docile.

Basically the book deals with the basic question "what if". What if the dead did come back? And more to the point, what if the recently dead came back, how would their loved one's feel? What if they seemed somewhat se
Oct 24, 2011 Colleen rated it did not like it
Shelves: zombies
I had very very high hopes for this book.

And I kept on reading to the bitter end, hoping my hopes would be realized.

Still not sure what the hell I was reading.

It's like if Virginia Woolf set out to write a zombie book, except I think Virginia Woolf could have done amazing things with that. Let's say a subpar zombie Virginia Woolf was dug up and resurrected and tasked to write this book in exchange for brains. Maybe then.

So basically this isn't horror at all. Spooky cover, Stephen King referen
Wayne Simmons
Mar 11, 2012 Wayne Simmons rated it really liked it
HANDLING THE UNDEAD is an odd little caper. Nothing at all like your trad zombie book - with only about 300 words of an exception. This book is more of a quietly sinister thriller, than a horror read. For those who are bizarro fans, you may find the premise very similar to a great little French z-horror called THEY CAME BACK - suddenly, without warning, recently deceased citizens of Stockholm, Sweden somehow come back to life.

Ultimately, all the things I associate with good horror are in this bo
Cheryl Anne Gardner
Dec 14, 2010 Cheryl Anne Gardner rated it it was amazing
I have to think on this one before I write any kind of review. It was Zombies for the Socially Conscious. Very original Night of the Living Dead as in it focused more on the characters who were alive than the ones who were dead. Excellent book. Very disturbing, but those expecting a horror novel will probably be dissapointed as there are a lot of issues tackled here from civil rights to medical experimentation to the grieving process.
Jul 25, 2011 Ryandake rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
it seems such a shame to take such an interesting premise and do so little with it.

the undead (or reliving, which is inaccurate but sounds perfectly bureaucratic) aren't zombies per se. they don't necessarily want to eat your brains, or even gnaw on your toes. the cause of their zombie-ness isn't some eViL plot by a government agency/mad virologist/terrorist whackjob group/meteor from outer space. there are no scenes of zombie mobs plodding after the hero/heroine. so, don't expect the standard i
Bill Breedlove
Jan 13, 2011 Bill Breedlove rated it it was amazing
This novel, by John Alvide Lundqvist, does have "undead" (or "zombies") in it. But, don't let that fool you that this is just another run-of-the-mill "zombie" novel. The best example I can use would be akin to saying that Lindqvist's previous novel, LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, is just another "vampire" novel. As astounding as that book was in its wholly original take on both the vampire legend and human (and inhuman) lonliness and the need to forge a bond or connection, this novel may be even more ast ...more
Fredrik Fischer
Oct 28, 2010 Fredrik Fischer rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 07, 2010 Hugo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror
This is not a sequel to, or otherwise connected to John Ajvide Lindquist's first novel, Let the Right One In, other than they both are set in the Stockholm area. In Hanteringen av Odöda, on the hottest August day anyone can remember, some kind of headache-inducing electrical field slowly builds up and holds the entire city in it's grip, and when it suddenly lifts, all the recently deceased start stirring and come back to life.

The novel follows a group of relatives to some of the recently arisen
Mar 24, 2009 Tressa rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, zombies, 2010
Started this a few days ago and it's not like the run-of-the-mill zombie book. Very beautifully written and is more about how we can't let go of our dead than our dead coming back to snack on our brains. But I'm not even half way into it; who knows what weird things might happen later on. I'm really enjoying it so far.


John Linqvist knows how to write beautiful prose, but I don't understand the purpose behind Handling the Undead. I don't even know why the dead sta
Sep 14, 2014 Gaby rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The writer of ”Let the Right one In” yet again re-invents a pop culture cliché, this time giving us a fresh perspective on zombies rather than vampires. Ajvide Lindqvist’s gory and disturbing descriptions of the “reliving” should satisfy even the most desensitized zombie enthusiast. But gore isn’t enough. He goes the extra mile to make his reliving truly terrifying by replacing the anonymous horde of monsters with deeply loved characters that just happen to be dead. The pain of losing a loved on ...more
Craig Allen
Mar 12, 2011 Craig Allen rated it it was ok
This book is hard to review, as it was hard to finish. It seemed to take me forever because I really couldn't get into the story. Nothing much seemed to happen and none of the characters were really that likeable. At the same time, every once in a while there would be a fun scene or something neat/gory would occur to keep my interest just enough-plus I hate quitting a book. This one was a very different take on a "zombie book" and these aren't your normal zombies. It's a take on what would happe ...more
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Am I the only person who read this book and thinks it was just awful? 35 123 Jan 20, 2015 12:51PM  
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John Ajvide Lindqvist (John Erik Ajvide Lindqvist) is a Swedish author who grew up in Blackeberg, the setting for Let the Right One In . Wanting to become something awful and fantastic, he first became a conjurer, and then was a stand-up comedian for twelve years. He has also written for Swedish television.

His Let the Right One In was a bestseller in Sweden and was named Best Novel in Translati
More about John Ajvide Lindqvist...

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“Viktor had been very sad about their grandfather's death, but Flora had intuited that it was less the person he grieved for than the fact of death itself. Death meant that people actually disappeared. That everyone was going to disappear” 7 likes
“¿Y si todo lo imposible empezara a ocurrir ahora?” 2 likes
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