The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

Posted December 4, 2019 by Amber in Reviews / 0 Comments

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The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

by Jonas Jonasson

Publisher: Ecco Press on September 25, 2013
Genre: Contemporary, Humor
Target Age Group: Adult

Rating: ★★★

Check out this book on Goodreads

On June 14th, 2007, the King and Prime Minister of Sweden went missing from a gala banquet at the Royal Castle. Later it was said that both had fallen ill: the truth is different. The real story starts much earlier, in 1961, with the birth of Nombeko Mayeki in a shack in Soweto. Nombeko was fated to grow up fast and die early in her poverty-stricken township. But Nombeko takes a different path. She finds work as a housecleaner and eventually makes her way up to the position of chief advisor, at the helm of one of the world's most secret projects.

Here is where the story merges with, then diverges from reality. South Africa developed six nuclear missiles in the 1980s, then voluntarily dismantled them in 1994. This is a story about the seventh missile . . . the one that was never supposed to have existed. Nombeko Mayeki knows too much about it, and now she's on the run from both the South African justice and the most terrifying secret service in the world. She ends up in Sweden, which has transformed into a nuclear nation, and the fate of the world now lies in Nombeko's hands.

 

So, this book is fun and quirky and has a lot of diversity and fun characters.  It’s even a bit memorable in its way, so I’d have to say that… generally?  I liked it!

There are a lot of good talking points in The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden.  First of all, there is the voice it’s told in:  the voice has that dry, fun wit that I relate to a lot of British science fiction writers.  I really like that voice, because it catches me by surprise and makes me laugh with its subtlety and pointing out the obvious.  It’s a great voice, and I loved it.  There were definitely moments it made me chuckle, generally from Nombeko’s point-of-view.

One of the downsides from this kind of voice is that character personalities get a bit lost in the storytelling.  I generally enjoyed the four characters that came together for the second half of the book, but I never got that sense of individualism that makes me fall in love with a character.  We knew who the characters were by how they were described, but they never really got to demonstrate it for themselves outside the narrator’s personal commentary.

The plot itself is a series of impossible events that take Nombeko and a bomb that shouldn’t exist from South Africa all the way up to Sweden, and the book is filled misadventures that are fun on their own.  My greatest criticism is that the story tended to meander, giving many less interesting characters time to introduce themselves and have a bit of a backstory.  It made the book drag out, even if each story could be considered – on its own – an amusing anecdote.  This is just a stylistic choice, and I’m sure some people will love it.  For my personal reading style, this was a thing that sometimes made me want to tear my hair out and holler, “Well, get on with it!”.

Once we got into the second half of the book with Celestine and the two Holgas, I enjoyed the story a lot more.  It took on a sense of direction and normalcy rather than just a series of unfortunate events.  For myself, I needed that to happen in order for it to hold my interest.  Because of this transition, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden moved from a book I was seriously considering DNF-ing to one I was casually curious about.

Generally speaking it was a unique and memorable read, and in full reflection, I’m glad I read it.  It was fun and quirky and very different.  I don’t feel like it was really a blockbuster, amazing sort of book.  But it’s a fun one to idle away some time, as long as you can offer it a bit of suspension of disbelief.

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Ratings Breakdown

Setting: ★★★★
Plot: ★★★★
Characters: ★★★
Writing: ★★★ 1/2
Pacing: ★★
Narrator: ★★★★
Personal Enjoyment: ★★★ 1/2
Overall: ★★★

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What type of voice do you like in a novel?  For me, the biggest thing is I need variety!  If the storytelling style doesn’t change for me between different reads, I get bored.  What about you?  Holler in the comments!

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