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45 of 47 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 12 months ago by Lykewake

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42 of 44 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 11 months ago by Frances Stott


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45 of 47 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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42 of 44 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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly inventive with hidden depths, 26 Jan. 2015
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Dr R (Norwich, UK) - See all my reviews
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Jonas Jonasson burst onto the publishing scene with The Hundred-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, originally published in Swedish in 2009 and in English three years later.

A significant part of the international success of this global success lay in Jonasson's ability to maintain an extended seemingly-simplistic whimsical story, a zany plot, heart-warming characters and an appeal to readers of all ages. This second book includes all these elements but, of course, lacks that of surprise. The author has a much more difficult task in getting readers who know what to expect to laugh or smile a second time.

However, firstly a major complaint. This is a book of 414 action-packed pages that includes both factual and historical events and characters, as well as those invented by the author. However, only in minute print on the copyright page do we find reference to the English translator, Rachel Wilson-Broyles. No stars to the publishers, 4th Estate, for this discourtesy, especially since the translation has been so expertly handled and has appeared so rapidly after the book's Swedish publication in 2013.

There is little point trying to summarise the author's fertile, almost Surrealist plot except to say that its central character - the Girl of the title - is Nombeko Mayeki, a Soweto orphan whom we meet first in the late 1950s cleaning latrines. Highly intelligent and entirely self-motivated [she developed her mathematical brilliance by counting the barrels she carries to empty, gradually making her calculations more complex], she organises the operation of the latrine office before a serious accident brings her into contact with a drunken engineer who leads South Africa's nuclear programme.

We follow her from 1970s Soweto to Sweden and back to South Africa in 2010. In the course of this coverage of Nombeko's life we meet a slew of incredible characters that include a trio of Chinese sisters [who teach Nombeko Wu Chinese and in return learn Xhosa], Swedish twin sons of Ingmar Qvist, a fanatical republican postman determined to bring down the monarchy, two Mossad agents, an unhinged American Vietnam War deserter, an angry young revolutionary and a descendent of Finnish aristocracy who ekes out a living growing potatoes.

Jonasson integrates these characters into a narrative that includes American, Israeli, Swedish, Chinese and South African politicians, and are offered a great deal of information about world history throughout the 20th century. Almost without exception these factual elements and background are seamlessly integrated into the developing story. One marvels at the extent of the research that has gone into this book, not least that described in the chapters where Nombeko is assisting, or directing, the South African nuclear bomb programme with the secret assistance of the Israelis.

Within this never-ending comedy, the author brings the reader back to the real world, referring to the complaints of her revolutionary friend about the pervasive inequality in Sweden, Nombeko thinks that `the angry young woman ought to take a job as a black person in Africa for a few weeks ... in order to get some perspective on her life.'

The bizarre invention does not slacken throughout the book and I would have welcomed some contrasts from the wacky slapstick comedy. Having said that, it is remarkable just how many of Jonasson's situations are laugh-out-loud funny. There are also some satirical digs - at the South African judiciary and Boer mentality, relatively easy targets, to Chinese Communism and egalitarian Sweden.

It would be very easy just to laugh at Nombeko and the other main characters but the author describes them with such sincerity and insight that the reader comes to care about their ridiculous predicaments. Through the characters of the postman's sons, Holger One and Holger Two, Jonasson also poses some searching questions about truth, identity and existence, as well as the complexity of genetic inheritance.

I doubted whether the author could repeat the success of his first novel but I was wrong. One wonders what he will do next but, whatever it is, I hope that his translator will be given greater recognition by his publishers, 9/10.
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86 of 96 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bonkers, 27 April 2014
By 
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outlandish and zany, not quite as good as his debut but a lot of fun to read, 8 Jun. 2014
By 
K. J. Noyes "Katy Noyes" (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden (Paperback)
It must be a hard task to follow up an international bestselling debut. Do you go for something similar or try something different? i'd say Jonasson has actually managed both in his second novel.

We have another funny Sweden-based tale about unlikely heroes and outlandish coincidences taking place over several decades. But we also have a Soweto-slum-born heroine, twins with no identity and bombs sent in the mail.

With several timelines from individuals in Soweto and Sweden (among others) coming together gradually, it takes a little concentration to remember who is who. Nombeko is hard to forget - born in a slum to an addict mother, her gift for numbers sees her rise to positions of influence in her early teens, but it is only when she leaves her home to seek a better life that an unexpected accident sees her take a path she could never have anticipated (but probably have been able to work out the statistical likelihood of). Half a world away in Sweden, a royalist becomes a maniacal would-be revolutionary, and brings up his twin sons (both given the same name) to follow his calling. How their plots come together is the story.

It's a lot of fun, though sometimes you lose track a little of the minor storylines and characters. I liked Nombeko, whose talents make her seem forever capable and resourceful, in every situation. I enjoyed the zaniness of it all - encompassing potato farms, incompetent police strikes, Chinese translators, communists, smuggled Chinese girls and the Swedish Prime Minister.

While I didn't find it quite as charming as Jonasson's debut, it's very entertaining, with outrageous coincidences and plots that are so insane you can't help but enjoy the silliness. Nice to see Scandinavian comedy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable romp, 23 Jan. 2015
This review is from: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden (Paperback)
This is an enjoyable romp that is very similar to the author’s previous 100 Year Old Man tale. It is full of weird but entertaining characters, bizarre coincidences and ludicrous situations but all placed in the real world, and there is a crazy logic to everything that happens. It’s not high literature but it is clever and at times quite humorous. However, I thought 100 Year Old Man was better as I cared more about the characters in that. Apart from poor Holger Two I didn’t really engage with any character in this.

Definitely worth reading – but I’m not sure if I’d be rushing to read a third book in a similar vein.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tongue firmly embedded in cheek, 21 Jan. 2015
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Nombeko was not born into the likelihood of making anything of her life, her mother an addict, working emptying latrines in Soweto, illiterate and destitute. However Nombeko is possessed of a fierce intelligence and a thirst for learning. After being run over, imprisoned in servitude and escaping to Sweden with a nuclear bomb, Nombeko teams up with a group of disparate and crazy characters and goes through a series of odd adventures before finding peace and success.

This book does not really change the formula that brought Jonasson such huge success with his previous novel. he finds an engaging but flawed character and tells the story of world history through their comic adventures. The tales are really engaging, almost laugh out loud funny, and very creative. One has to suspend credulity and come down to the level of the writing to really enjoy this book but as a fast and extremely entertaining read it succeeds magnificently.
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9 of 10 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
4.0 out of 5 stars Great satire at the start, 16 Feb. 2015
This review is from: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden (Paperback)
This comic novel begins with gusto as the heroine Nombeko Mayeki rises from the slums of Soweto and makes it to Sweden (where the denouement involves the worrying and unwanted possession of a nuclear bomb). Jonasson rips apart the lazy, drunken, idiotic racists of the Apartheid era, with Nombeko far smarter than the fools who run its nuclear programme, where she is forced to work as a cleaner on low wages. The humour of the beginning is dark and brilliant....

It all turns a bit Keystone Cops as the book moves on with a strong sense of farce as events spiral steadily out of control in the most unlikeliest of ways ... leading to the bomb, with the future of the world order at stake. This is an imaginative, very funny book, and highly original. It's too long - 80-100 pages could go and the writing would be the better for it - but even so, you're hooked early on and the pages keep turning.
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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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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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