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Friday, August 1, 2014

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Book Review: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

Jonas Jonasson has done it again. The author of the hilarious The 100 year old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared has created yet another unbelievable funny, witty, and bizarre piece of historical fiction in The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden. If you love history, rich characters, and absolute absurdity than you're really going to love this book.
It's a pretty difficult story to sum up in a couple of paragraphs, but on the most basic level the story is about the life of Nombeko, an unbelievably smart woman from South Africa who winds up accidentally taking possession of an atomic bomb (that's not technically supposed to exist) after escaping to Sweden. It's also about Holger, a man from Sweden whose father decided to name his twin sons both Holger and send them to school every other day as the same boy so he could fill their heads with his hate for the King of Sweden. Nombeko and Holger meet and together must figure out how to get rid of an atomic bomb that doesn't exist while dealing with Holger's idiot twin brother, Holger, and his angry girlfriend who are both hell bent on using the bomb to end the monarchy.

I can also add that this ridiculous story includes two people who don't exist, an atomic bomb mistaken for a box of antelope meat, a king with chicken blood and motor oil on his shirt, fake authentic clay geese from the Han dynasty, a potato farming countess, and a mini-horse.

Just like his other book, this one is filled to the brim with historical figures and events. I didn't know all of the references he was making, but still found it enjoyable. So if you're a history buff you'll enjoy it even more. And even though Jonasson's narrative is so absurd and out there that you know there's no way any of it could have happened, he mixes his absurd fiction with true events that are stranger than fiction in such a way that he creates a credibility and believability that is surprising.

I will say that it wasn't always an easy or light hearted read though. At the end of the book when you think things will finally will turn out right, things just get worse and worse and as the reader, I felt the stress as much as the characters. Jonasson knows how to kick you when you're down, but in the most hilarious way possible. That being said, the constant upstart in plans, the historical facts, the side stories, the devotion to even the smallest character's backstory can all be a little exhausting at times. This is definitely a book for the light-hearted yet well trained marathon reader. I recommend doing some stretches before.

But overall I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It made me laugh out loud through a whirl wind of history, and what's not to love about that?
"You're not angry at me because of the thing about the atomic bomb, then?" "Nah," said Holger. "Such things happen."

Title: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

Author: Jonas Jonasson

Genre: Historical Fiction

Recommendation: Yes

Best Reader Audience: Adult Male and Female Readers

Final Rating: Four out of Five mugs of hot chocolate 

Want to find out how crazy this book really is? Use the link below and your purchase will help support the Lone Book Club!

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