Looking forward to several hours of train travel on Christmas Day, I promised myself a mindless read. Nothing teen-related, nothing for a bookgroup. So I picked a Swedish mystery/thriller from my shelf. (Full disclosure: Last Christmas I bought my Dad a pile of Swedish mysteries to compliment his enjoyment of Stieg Larsson. I have since–surprise!–borrowed most of them.) Yesterday, about halfway through Missing by Karin Alvtegen, I realized what a perfect recommendation it is for teens who enjoyed the Millennium Trilogy. The homeless protagonist, Sibylla, teams up with a 15-year-old boy to find the killer, and flashbacks to her own teen years are central to the plot. The pace never slows and Sibylla is an appealing, interesting character. Originally published as Saknad in Sweden in 2000, the English translation was published by Felony and Mayhem Press in 2008.
Zombies are the subject of Handling the Undead, the latest U.S. release by the Swedish author of the popular vampire novel made into two very popular film versions, Let the Right One In. Handling the Undead was first published in Sweden in 2005, translated into English in 2009, and finally released in the U.S. this year, perhaps in order to coincide with the American movie version of Let the Right One In.
LINDQVIST, John Ajvide. Handling the Undead. tr. from Swedish by Ebba Segerberg. 364p. Thomas Dunne Bks. 2010. pap. $24.99. ISBN 978-0-312-60525-4. LC number unavailable.
Adult/High School–In this completely new twist on the zombie novel, Lindqvist presents readers with an interesting dilemma. Everyone in Stockholm who has died within the last two months is suddenly reanimating. Whether in the morgue, a hospital bed or in the grave, they have come back to life–and all they want to do is go home. Instead of being presented as anonymous, shambling masses, these zombies are loved ones who are desperately missed. Through the struggles of several characters trying to cope with their “reliving” family members, the author poses some interesting questions. If you refuse to let the government take your relative, what exactly do you do with him? Is this reanimation a prelude to something bigger? What does it mean to be alive? Though a few ends are left dangling, Lindqvist’s thoughtful approach to the issue of the undead is a fresh entry into a genre with proven teen appeal.–Carla Riemer, Berkeley High School, CA