Handling the Undead
John Ajvide Lindqvist
Published October 2010
In Sweden, the dead are coming back to life. Not eating people. Not hungering for juicy, delicious brains. Generally, they're just hanging out. Living people, predictably, aren't taking it too well.
I had high expectations for this book, and I wanted to like it (who purposely chooses to read a book they think they're going to hate?) but this just fell flat for me. First off, it was uber monotonous - besides the lifeless (ha!) zombies, the rest of the characters were just your average people struggling with average obstacles. If I wanted a book about EMOTIONS and STRUGGLE I'd ask Oprah for a recommendation. Which, if I'm in the mood for that kind of thing, I might.
But I wanted ZOMBIES. The Undead. Not the apathetic Reliving. Maybe the Swedes are just like that.
The only character I really liked was Mahler, but I grew to find him less appealing the more I read. He went from Shabbily-Heroic to kind of... Whiny-Wiener. I thought characters were supposed to Evolve, not DEvolve. Sad-Dad just got Sadder. Old Biddy and Emo Girl faded out. And the Reliving just laid there. It wasn't exactly riveting stuff.
However, there were a few notable scenes; there was gore in the form of accidents and stowaways, a few heart-string tugging scenes both sad and sweet, and it was written reasonably well (though I caught a few editing errors).
It just had too many plot lines for me to focus properly; really, I could have done without Flora and Elvy altogether (sorry ladies). And the biggest problem for me - it was way too ambiguous. Maybe I'm just a dolt who slept through the last 50 pages (guilty as charged, actually) but I didn't really get a) why it all happened in the first place, b) what it all meant, and c) where it could possibly go from there. I'm sure it was a grand postulation of life and death and what it all means, but, like I said, Oprah will hook a sista' up when I'm in that kind of mood.
But, whatever. I can still appreciate a good book, even if I don't personally like it.