Ryandake's Reviews > Handling the Undead

Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist
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Jul 25, 2011

it was ok
Read in July, 2011

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 in zombie fare.

which is of course exactly what one expects from the author of Let the Right One in, a ripper ripper take on the vampire legend. one expects a fresh take. and in that, Lindqvist doesn't disappoint--his central question is really interesting: what do we do when those we loved as living people return from the dead, decay and all?

Lindqvist doesn't offer up any easy answers on that score, and that's a good thing. but he pretty much fails, i think, in the depictions he gives. the characters seem barely one rung above the dead they're mourning. and if you're going to examine how we might relate to our loved dead, wow, you really must do a careful job of examining character. which means they have to have full, rounded, nuanced, real, living, breathing, idiosyncratic, contradictory, muddled, and occasionally joyful characters, just like the rest of us.

do you ever get the feeling that you're getting a second draft of a novel, instead of a really finished one? that's how this book feels to me.

it's not a bad book (except (view spoiler)). but it's not half of what it could be, either. unless Let the Right One In was a fluke, i'm pretty sure this writer is better than that.
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