Jonas Jonasson’s first novel, in my opinion, was a true delight to read. It was original and funny and I spent my tube journey’s actually laughing out loud. I raved about it to friends and recommended it left, right and centre. So when I packed for holiday last month, his latest book, ‘The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden’, was the first thing that went into my suitcase.
In this book, our protagonist is Nombeko Mayeki. Born in Soweto, South Africa, the course of Nombeko’s life takes a long and varied trajectory. After a succession of accidents, happy coincidences and bizarre twists, she ends up in living in a pillow warehouse in Sweden with a man that technically doesn’t exist and a whole cast of other captivating characters. She’s also fluent in Chinese and has an all too intimate knowledge of nuclear weaponry. Soon enough, she’s on course to save the life of the King of Sweden.
To say more about the plot would be to take away from the charm of the book, but once again readers are asked to completely suspend their disbelief and just go along for the ride.
Maybe it was because I’d hyped it up so much, but when I turned the last page I was left feeling a little disappointed. Essentially, if you’ve read ‘The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed out of the Window and Disappeared’, ‘The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden’ will come as nothing new to you. It uses much the same format, the same language and the same style of writing.
While it was still entertaining, it lost the feeling of originality and excitement that came with Jonasson’s first novel. To me, it felt a little bit like the author knew he had a formula for success and so stuck to it religiously, keeping loyal fans happy but not offering them anything new.
If you’ve read this, but haven’t read ‘The Hundred Year Old Man’, I’d love to know your thoughts and impressions of Jonasson’s writing style!