HANDLING THE UNDEAD (2009) by John Ajvide Lindqvist.
(Original Swedish title: HANTERINGEN AV ODÖDA (2005).)
Ajvide Lindqvist became a bestseller writer with his horror novel LET
THE RIGHT ONE IN (a book so creepy I could barely finish it - and I mean
that as a compliment!).
HANDLING THE UNDEAD was released after that monster hit (pun intended), so naturally expectations were high.
And it may not be bestseller material, but I really appreciate that Lindqvist did not
try to repeat himself. The "undead" of the story are neither zombies
nor ghosts. The story is not really about them, but about
the living - about how we grieve and/or fear the dead, and how society
tries (unsuccessfully) to control that grief and fear.
There is also an element of dark satire, when the Swedish "cradle-to-grave" welfare society tries to treat the undead as just another "social problem"... with unforeseen and ghastly results. (A "cradle-to-beyond-the-grave" society, if you wish...)
this novel is good. In places, it's even great. However, HANDLING THE UNDEAD comes just short of greatness. It seems to run out of steam towards the end,
and the conclusion feels somewhat rushed.
It's creepy for sure, and
refreshingly original, but... perhaps it could have offered a little
Recommended for readers of horror and weird fiction.
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