Dystopian YA-books seem to be my theme for 2011. Now even Finnish writers have jumped on the bandwagon. I have to say, that while their effort is by n...moreDystopian YA-books seem to be my theme for 2011. Now even Finnish writers have jumped on the bandwagon. I have to say, that while their effort is by no means perfect, it's miles better than Ally Condie's paint-by-the-numbers dystopian bildungsroman.(less)
Beautifully written book, but relentlessly bleak and unpleasant. Still, the horrors of war and human cruelty were so powerfully portrayed that I would...moreBeautifully written book, but relentlessly bleak and unpleasant. Still, the horrors of war and human cruelty were so powerfully portrayed that I would have given this four stars, had the way Claudel wrote his main female characters not irked me to distraction -- all beautiful, young, innocent, and dead, and in the end, all three (or four) are simply a reflection of the same beautiful, innocent femaleness. Their deaths are not the tragedy, the tragedy is that the men lose that beauty from their lives.
Oh, and maybe I should add that one of those women is finally given a voice and inner life of her very own towards the end of the book, even if her all her thoughts revolve completely around her soldier paramour. But it's war, it makes sense. Hence three rather than two stars.(less)
It's silly to write this review in English, since the book was originally written in Swedish, and I read the Finnish translation, but in English this...moreIt's silly to write this review in English, since the book was originally written in Swedish, and I read the Finnish translation, but in English this shall nevertheless be.
A six year old Maja disappears into thin air during a beautiful, almost idyllic winter day. This destroys her father Andres, who succumbs to desperation and alcoholism. About a year later he returns to the scene of the tragedy, a remote island where his grandmother still lives. After a while he starts receiving messages. Around the same time, the inhabitants of the island start being terrorized and it's unclear who's behind this.
Lindqvist weaves a really interesting, multi-layered tale here. All the different stories may seem random at first, but they do form a coherent whole if the reader blows patiently on. Even before that, I enjoyed the very act of story telling, the echoes of oral traditions that I fancied I could detect in this. It reminded me a little of living in Lapland, where people are also fond of telling tall tales that sometimes hint at dark, supernatural forces. The fact that the harsh, unfriendly nature was such a strong presence in this book was another thing that brought Lapland to mind.
I also liked the way Lindqvist describes different kinds of love. The love of a parent for his child. The puppy love between Andres and Cecilia, and the decades long partnership between Anna-Greta and Simon. All these are touching and strong.
The writing is good, the atmosphere chilling. The characters are alive and interesting. Anders' grandmother, Anna-Greta, is an especially wonderful creation: complicated and powerful. Still, just three stars. Unfortunately, I felt that the story didn't quite manage to keep me fascinated till the end. The first 400 pages or so were absolutely riveting, but the rest could have maybe used some editing. (less)