Friday, 15 March 2013

Book #9

Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist
When Lennart Cederström found the baby girl lying in a plastic bag, she was close to death. As he gave her the kiss of life, her responding breath was a perfect musical note. In that instant, she became his obsession. He could do nothing but take her home. But this little star is nothing short of a nightmare.
Having read Let the Right One In by this author, I had very high hopes for Little Star. With the former novel, Lindqvist took the age old vampire novel and made it even darker, and more disturbing than not only certain vampire romance novels we could mention, but also the genre as a whole.

The plot started off incredibly well. The mystery of the baby girl, Theres, who was found in the woods, was a huge one, and her strange musical abilities were curious to say the least. I was interested to learn of the child's progression through life, and of the strange incidents that occurred as this happened. After one particularly shocking incident, we are transported from this girl's life to that of another, more normal girl, Theresa. She was full of the typical types of angst young teenage girls experience, and as a result she was a complete and utter dullard. I think Lindqvist was attempting here to contrast the lives of the girls, one having a fairly typical upbringing and one not, but Theresa is bullied for being overweight, and so turns into a psychopath. Please.

I felt as though Lindqvist had spent all his energy on developing the first strange girl, and so had no drive left to give us a really interesting second crazy lady. A number of other girls are brought into the mix, forming a wolf pack, and none of them had particularly meaty backstories. This was such a shame, because by the time the girls turned savage, I had completely disengaged and was entirely unaffected by lyrical bouts of bloody violence.

What I particularly liked about Let the Right One In, was the sheer extrinsic atmosphere I felt reading a supernatural novel set in a Scandinavian country. It felt darker somehow, foreign and frightening. This was only present in the beginning of Little Star, and was effective until I started to notice English colloquialisms creep into both the narrative and dialogue. Although this was no doubt down to the translator, and not Lindqvist himself, reading of young Swedish girls smoking 'fags' and saying, 'bloody hell' just didn't ring true with me. I was half expecting Ron Weasley to jump out of a Ford Anglia.

I'm not one to become irritated if a novel doesn't reveal everything by its finale. In fact, I quite often respect an author for leaving an open ending, and allowing us as readers to make our own decisions about what we've read. Lindqvist leaves out an important factor here; the origin of Theres. The novel begins as though someone has tried desperately to get rid of her, and this piqued my curiosity originally. Her foundations are never referred to again, and I feel this would have added to the plot significantly. I realise Lindqvist's intent was to leave a chilling question mark over the girl's ancestry, but this didn't work for me.

Although this had, without a doubt, a very promising beginning, it falls flat pretty quickly. I feel as though I have no idea what Lindqvist was trying to achieve, and also feel that perhaps he had no idea either. I wouldn't describe this as a horror novel, and wouldn't encourage you to think of it as such.

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