Last year when I was attempting the 50 Book Challenge, I tried to read several novels written by authors I hadn’t read previously. A couple of the authors were chosen based on the fact that I really enjoyed movies that were based on their work. This week’s Saturday Book Club post features one such author.
Image courtesy of us.macmillan.com.
Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist
I was drawn to this book mainly due to the fact that I loved the movie Let the Right One In. I think I would eventually like to read that book as well, mostly to get more insight into some of the characters’ actions.
Though some parts were a little sloppy (I’m not sure if it was due to the translation or poor editing), it was an overall interesting read. Handling the Undead poses the question: What if the dead came back to life?
After a strange night in Stockholm during which all residents incur a splitting headache and all things electrical cannot be powered off, all of the people within the area who have been dead for 2 months or less come back to life … Well, sort of.
They’re referred to as “the reliving,” but they’re not your typical hungry-for-brains zombies. The novel is listed under the horror genre, but I really think it’s more of a drama. Lindqvist centers his story around 3 families who have all recently lost a loved one. Although there are quite a few characters, it’s not difficult to follow the story or feel real sympathy for their individual situations. And while Handling the Undead definitely had some horror-esque moments (an eel eating through a dead man’s chest cavity, for example), it was more of an emotional novel than a scary one. In fact, I almost cried when I read the ending.
The writing was somewhat simplistic and didn’t completely blow me away. I do wonder, though, if a lot of this is due to the translation. (Oh, how I wish I could read/speak many other languages fluently!) Regardless, the way the book played out was interesting and it was certainly a fresh take on zombies.
I would read this book again, and would recommend it to others. It’s an easy read, though it does make you think a bit about what it would be like both for the reliving and their loved ones if such an event were to actually occur. If you’re into zombies, you might be a little disappointed since, as I mentioned earlier, this isn’t your typical “scary” zombie story. But if you’re into zombies and looking for an interesting new look at this subgenre, this would be perfect for you. I’m not that into zombie stuff in all honesty, but I thought Handling the Undead was very enjoyable.
I would give this book FOUR STARS. It’s not a masterpiece worthy of a perfect rating, but it was a very unique and entertaining read. I think it could potentially make a good film as well, though certain elements (particularly the mind reading that plays a large part throughout the novel) might be more difficult to bring to the screen. If they did make a movie of this book, I’d definitely see it.