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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as good as its predecessor but that would be asking a lot
Like many reviewers, I was looking forward to this book after Jonasson's amazing debut with "The hundred year old man..." and, by comparison, I found it slightly disappointing - but only slightly. The style is unmistakably Jonasson - the same easy reading style, the same implausible co-incidences and hilarious adventures - so it's definitely a case of "more...
Published 5 months ago by Lykewake

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Formula doesn't work the second time
This novel charts the progress of Nombeko, a highly intelligent and inventive South Afican girl who moves from emptying latrines, to being run over by a car and compelled to work for the driver, through to her escape and her eventual 'saving' of the King of Sweden. Along the way, she teams up with a pair of identical Swedish twins, and together they find themselves in...
Published 4 months ago by Frances Stott


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Formula doesn't work the second time, 23 Jun 2014
By 
Frances Stott (Devizes, Wiltshire) - See all my reviews
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This novel charts the progress of Nombeko, a highly intelligent and inventive South Afican girl who moves from emptying latrines, to being run over by a car and compelled to work for the driver, through to her escape and her eventual 'saving' of the King of Sweden. Along the way, she teams up with a pair of identical Swedish twins, and together they find themselves in possession of an atomic bomb, with no means of disposing of it.

Like The Hundred-Year-Old Man, Nombeko travels widely, and like him, she meets all kinds of unlikely characters on the way. But I found this novel too smiliar to the author's first (which, incidentally, I loved), and it went on far too long. At the beginning, I found it very funny and lively, but afer a while, all that began to wear off, and I became bored with it. In the end, I struggled to finish it.

The author seems to have found a formula, and it obviously works for many readers. In fact, had it been cut by a third, I might have enjoyed it. But as I read it, it moved from five, to four stars, and (for me) ended up with just three.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not quite as good as its predecessor but that would be asking a lot, 26 May 2014
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Like many reviewers, I was looking forward to this book after Jonasson's amazing debut with "The hundred year old man..." and, by comparison, I found it slightly disappointing - but only slightly. The style is unmistakably Jonasson - the same easy reading style, the same implausible co-incidences and hilarious adventures - so it's definitely a case of "more of the same". That seems to have upset some reviewers, but not this one. The plot and characters are very different and the story zigs and zags all over the place.

If you have read and enjoyed "The hundred year old man..." ignore the reviews of this book, read it yourself and form your own opinions. If you haven't read "The hundred year old man..." try reading this one first and then read and review "The hundred year old man..." I, for one, would be very interested to see if the reason so many reviewers are disappointed by this book is simply that it's too similar in style to its predecessor.
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80 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bonkers, 27 April 2014
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M. Dowden (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden (Paperback)
It was going to be a tall order to pull off another highly original and funny novel after Jonasson’s debut, ‘The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out Of The Window And Disappeared’, which I believe has or will soon be a film. We eagerly awaited to see what his next novel would be like and hoped that it would still be good, and although I personally have a slight preference for his debut, this is still another great tale.

Those who have read his first book will remember that in places there were echoes of ‘Forrest Gump’; as you start to read this novel you see echoes of ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ at the beginning, although set in South Africa. We meet Nombeko Mayeki who is born in the Soweto slums and to put it politely is what in this country used to be called a night soil person. But Nombeko soon learns to count and become literate, despite things being against her and the other blacks in an apartheid country. From these humble beginnings by fourteen years of age she is running the refuse centre, but her life takes a dramatic turn, and she ends up working at a secret facility for building an atomic bomb (Jonas Jonasson loves his atomic bombs). Although a cleaning lady Nombeko it has to be admitted becomes more or less the brains behind the research facility.

Of course things don’t go to plan, as ultimately Nombeko finds that her boss has created seven atomic bombs instead of six, and has to get rid of the extra as political events change. Thus Nombeko finds herself seeking asylum in Sweden, being lumbered with an atomic bomb and three Chinese sisters who only really know how to make fake antique pottery. With Mossad also on her trail could things get any worse? Well there is romance, and the fact that she is now living with identical twins, although one of these doesn’t officially exist. Both twins were indoctrinated by their father and his obsession with the Swedish monarch, but only the first twin still seems affected by this. Add an American soldier from the Vietnam War who thinks the CIA are after him, and a Swedish woman who likes to protest against everything and you know that once more you have entered the weird and quirky world of Jonasson.

This is a farce that will have you laughing out loud and wondering how the author came up with the plot, and at the same time with enough biting satire to make you think about certain things. But ultimately the thing is, lumbered with an atomic bomb and trying to get rid of it may not be the easiest of things, especially if you want to do it legitimately, so will Nombeko ever get rid of a bomb that has become a shackle for her? Once again with his original and quirky humour Jonasson shows us that Swedes do have a sense of humour and it is pretty far out there.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book with a real feel good factor, 29 Aug 2014
By 
Robin Webster "Robin" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden (Paperback)
The main character of this novel is a young black South African girl called Nombeko Mayeki: who was born in poverty in the Soweto Township in 1961 and was orphaned at an early age. However, Nombeko has a brilliant mind especially when it comes to mathematics and languages. The novel follows Nombeko’s unusual life from the townships of apartheid South Africa to twenty first century Sweden. Reading the above part of this review, I wouldn’t blame you for thinking this must be one of those ‘hard hitting’ novels about a strong intelligent young woman struggling to survive despite the odds. Well in a way it is: but you would need to remove the words ‘hard hitting’ from my previous sentence and replace it with ‘really funny’. This book has a real feel good factor, plus a range of great characters and bizarre situations. The characters include three Chinese sisters who also happen to be experts at making fake Chinese antiques, twin brothers who share the same name and official identity, two Mossad agents who Nombeko has to continually outwit while at the same time being encumbered with an atomic bomb. I would be evading my responsibilities if I didn’t warn you not to read this book in a crowned railway carriage. Because if you do, I could almost guarantee you will find yourself fully engrossed in the story: then hit upon an amusing paragraph and find yourself overcome with laughter. You will then be left to face the annoyed stares of your fellow passengers. Apart from that, I highly recommend this novel. Can’t wait for Jonas Jonasson’s next book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "In some ways they were lucky, the latrine emptiers in S. Africa's largest shantytown.They had a job, a roof over their heads.", 30 July 2014
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
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In a novel so wild and imaginative that it screams out to be made into a film, Swedish author Jonas Jonasson expands this "farce" beyond the customary domestic focus and uses the whole world as his stage. Drawing his characters from South Africa, Israel, China, and Sweden, with a couple of Americans also earning passing swipes, he focuses on cultural and racial issues; world affairs, including the modern political history of several countries; and the accidents of history which have the power to change the world. The craziness starts with the novel's over-the-top opening line, quoted here as this review's title. For the next four hundred pages, the bold absurdity continues, spreading outward until it eventually absorbs the kings, presidents, and prime ministers of Europe, the Middle East, and Asia.

Main character Nombeko Mayeki, a thirteen-year-old orphan, has been a latrine worker in Soweto, South Africa's largest shantytown, for half her life, educating herself on the job by counting the barrels she totes, then gradually making the counting exercises harder until she can multiply huge sums in her head. She is as verbal as she is mathematical - and so astute as to motivations of those around her that she progresses quickly, both on the job and in her education, proving to be far more clever than the people who teach her. Her eventual escape for Pretoria ends quickly when she is injured. A judge sentences her to work for the man who injured her - at Pelindaba, a nuclear research facility north of Johannesburg which is working to build an atomic bomb.

Alternating with the story of Nombeko is the story of Ingmar Qvist, a Swede whose life's mission is to shake the hand of Swedish King Gustav V. In following the king, however, he becomes so intrusive that the king hits him with his cane, turning him instantly into a social democrat devoted to ending the monarchy.

Within this framework, the author creates a vibrant farce involving the loyalties and relationships among people, countries, and political points of view. As South Africa changes, and the government begins to fear what might happen if Nelson Mandela's supporters were to acquire the six atomic bombs which the country has already developed, the novel becomes more complex. The Chinese and Israelis are also anxious to obtain these bombs. When Nombeko eventually moves to Sweden, lugging along an unknown seventh bomb with her, the free-for-all becomes a reality. The two plot lines converge as Nombeko (and her bomb) move into a condemned factory building in Gnesta, the very building where Ingmar's two politically motivated sons also live.

More complex and character driven than many other farces, the novel is also longer than most, stretching the limits of the genre. Jonasson straddles the line admirably, matching his plot to real events acted out by real people in South Africa, Sweden, China, and Israel. Picaresque, with a plot which wanders around following the life of Nombeko from the age of thirteen to forty-seven, the novel wastes no time in making its points about personal and political responsibility, or as the author says, "If God does exist, he must have a good sense of humor."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Hundred Year Old Man Who Is Now A Young African Girl, 7 July 2014
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Peter Lee (Manchester ,United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I loved "The Hundred Year Old Man..." and was really looking forward to reading this, but sadly I found it extremely disappointing.

The story opens with a girl called Nombeko working in a filthy job emptying latrines in South Africa. Nombeko turns out to be something of a mathematical genius and before long she's acting as the manager of the facility despite her young age, and increasing its profitability. Eventually she leaves, hoping to further herself in the great libraries of the world, but when she is knocked down by a drunken white driver she is blamed for the accident due to her colour (the early part of the book is set in the days of apartheid) and becomes the slave of an engineer. From then on the book lurches from coincidence to coincidence, and all along Nombeko appears to be surrounded by idiots, the sole intelligent person in the book, the one person who knows the answer to everything.

Unlike the joyously daft "Hundred Year Old Man" this book feels rather dense and overly political, almost a rant in some ways, and fans of dialogue should definitely give this one a miss as there is hardly any - it's almost all exposition. Long sections of the book feel like rehashes of the author's previous work, so once again something goes rolling down a hill, someone is lost at sea, things are coincidentally "found", famous people pop up in "Forrest Gump" style...

On the whole I found it too long, too dull, unfunny, and overly familiar. Could the author be a one-trick pony? It feels like that to me. Still, lots of people seem to have loved the book, but this one wasn't for me. A shame.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Implausible but true, 20 Jun 2014
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Jonas Jonasson is my new favourite person. After reading The Hundred Year Old Man I was sceptical that he could write a second clever, engaging and hilarious book. Happily I was wrong. This is the true art of story-telling at its finest with larger than life characters and a plot so convoluted that you just have to believe in it. Rarely find myself laughing out loud when I read. Jonasson's books are the rare exception.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Any one else experienced a deja vu when reading this...?, 17 Jun 2014
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I was very excited to buy the new book by Jonas Jonasson, having absolutely loved The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. However, reading this was really a deja vu experience, different people and setting, but same plot, more or less. I was very disappointed as it seemed written as a hasty follow-up to cash in on the hype.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars very funny, 29 May 2014
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Another book with seemingly random strands of history coming together to create a hilarious set of consequences. Just brilliant. Loved it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quirky, funny, frolic, 16 Oct 2014
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If you liked Jonas Jonasson's previous book, then the same formula is followed with an ensemble cast of conflicting and differently motivated characters who battle with each other and the central task in hand. It's not a plot spoiler to tell you that the girl who does indeed save the king of Sweden is an illiterate, black South African and how the two characters from the title meet up is part of the charm of the story. Meticulous research and sufficient overlap with known real events keep you guessing about the margins of fact and fiction. Storylines are tied up with satisfaction and although this is not laugh out loud comedy, it is wryly amusing. I enjoyed it.
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The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden
The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson (Paperback - 24 April 2014)
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