Handling the Undead

By John Ajvide Lindqvist

Handling the UndeadSource: Library

My Rating: 3 / 5

I borrowed this from the library because I read and enjoyed Lindqvist’s debut novel, Let the Right One In, a while back and was interested in reading more of his work. Here is the summary from the Kobo store:

In his new novel, John Ajvide Lindqvist does for zombies what his previous novel, Let the Right One In, did for vampires. Across Stockholm the power grid has gone crazy. In the morgue and in cemeteries, the recently deceased are waking up. One grandfather is alight with hope that his grandson will be returned, but one husband is aghast at what his adored wife has become. A horror novel that transcends its genre by showing what the return of the dead might really mean to those who loved them.

This is not your typical zombie book. This is more about the families and loved ones of the ‘reliving’, as they are referred to in this book, than it is about the reliving themselves. If that appeals to you, I would recommend this book.

Through the three families in this book – David and his son Magnus, and the reliving Eva (David’s wife and Magnus’s mother); Anna and her father Gustav and Anna’s reliving son Elias; and Flora and her grandmother Elvy, and Elvy’s reliving husband Tore – different viewpoints on this reanimation are represented: it is the end of days; it is a miracle; it is a burden; and more. For some, it’s a sign that death is not the end. For the politicians, it becomes a debate about whether or not the reliving have any rights, and how society should deal with them.

This was not necessarily a scary or horror story – although there were moments that chilled me, they were rare and I don’t think the point or purpose of this story is to flat-out frighten. It’s a slow moving story but one that I couldn’t really put down. I was drawn to the characters (particularly David and Magnus) and could feel that the book was building up to something – there was so much tension and I wanted to read to the end and see what happened.

The translation seemed a bit clunky at times, particularly the dialogue between characters, but I do like Lindqvist’s writing and will probably read more of his work. If you’re interested in a different take on zombies, I recommend this book.

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