I picked this up as it had been recommended to me after buying another book on Amazon, had a fantastic title, was intriguing and even better was just 20p on Kindle (which it still currently is, so I recommend you buy it right now this second, what have you got to lose?)
Translated from the original Swedish, the book begins in May 2005 as Allan Karlsson climbs out of the window of the old people’s home where he lives in order to avoid the party being thrown for his 100th birthday.
The centenarian is wearing his indoor slippers and has no particular destination in mind – however, circumstance soon finds him embroiled in a plot that involves theft, gangs, murders and even an elephant called Sonya! (Note the spelling – I am ‘with an i’!)
On top of all this, it appears that the cops are after him, and closing in rapidly.
Thrilling as this may seem, it has nothing on the life that he led before he landed in the old people’s home.
I don’t really know what I was expecting from this book – but it definitely wasn’t what I got!
Allan Karlsson’s life leading up to his dramatic ‘escape’ was dramatic in itself, even though the man himself seems the coolest, calmest person I’ve ever come across in fiction. He seems to plod along, doing whatever he fancies, and taking it in his stride that he seems to regularly come into contact with world leaders and somehow be responsible for various events in recent history.
The story of his life is so obviously ridiculous, and yet Allan himself is so undynamic and reasonable that it feels almost plausible! How confusing is that.
Murders aside (which are quite frankly cartoonish and almost laughable themselves), this story is gentle and harmless and amused me page by page.
Overall, I did in fact take away one valuable thought – don’t judge old people on how you see them, the longer they’ve lived, the greater the opportunity for adventure they have had. Of course, the majority of them will have had no influence over Chairman Mao or Stalin!
I can honestly say that this is by far the best (*) book I have read this year – and I am now looking forward to the film.
After reviewing The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, I thought I should review that other recent Swedish offering of fantasticness that was Let The Right One In.
This is a vampire story with a difference – the whole ‘sexiness’ of vampires is taken away as this story centres around a 12 year old boy (Oskar) who lives with his mother and is an outcast at school, frequently bullied by some of the other boys. He often fantasizes about getting his own back.
Local people start being murdered at about the same time as a new girl moves in next door to Oskar with her father. Eli is also 12…at least on the outside. Eli is mysterious, she doesn’t go to school, she doesn’t wear any shoes in the snow, she never seems to get cold – and she seems wise beyond her years.
Little does Oskar know that Eli has been 12 for 200 years!
This is a brilliant film, and not your usual vampire story at all. It’s all about emotions, growing up, love, loyalty and revenge.
There was only one scene in it that jarred with me, and that was the one with the cats. But having read the book since, yes – the scene IS in the book, so I guess it was staying true, even though it would have been near enough impossible to recreate that scene without it looking absolutely hilariously awful.
The book explains a lot more, and actually has Eli a lot more androgynous, which makes a lot more sense in the overall story – but I can see why it may not have worked so well in the film.
I know that the Hollywood version has come out this weekend – and I must admit, I am curious as to why they felt they needed to remake it, and whether they have brought anything new to the story. I am very dubious.
My rating 9.5/10 (would’ve been prefect without the cat scene!)
I was a bit wary of watching this film at first because I had enjoyed the book so much (as per my review) and we all know how disappointing adaptations can be. However, I’d heard good things, and at least it was a Swedish film, so I gave it a go a few weeks ago (yes, and have only just got around to reviewing it!)
I must admit, it makes a pretty good film. the girl playing Salander is very believable and grungy (which is twice as amazing when you see how gorgeous the actress usually looks), and Blomkvist feels right too.
However, I watched it with The Man and I found that I was having to explain quite a few bits to him that I only knew from reading the book. The film felt slightly shallow. I was quite shocked that Erika Berger was shown in the film, and yet not even named, and the relationship between her and Blomkvist went completely unexplained.
Saying that, The Man didn’t feel cheated of any story, and has said that he’ll probably read the books now.
It’s a great story, and it’s a good film. I will definitely watch the other two. However, it wasn’t a patch on the book – so probably best to watch BEFORE reading it! I’d be very interested to know if anyone else felt that some of the vital elements of the plot were missing, or glossed over.
My rating 8/10