John Ajvide Lindqvist has been crowned the heir apparent to Stephen King by numerous sources, and he is heralded around the globe as one of the most spectacularly talented horror writers working today. His first novel, Let the Right One In, is a cult classic that has been made into iconic films in both Sweden and in the United States. His second novel,Handling the Undead, is beloved by horror fans everywhere. His third novel, Harbor, is a masterpiece that draws countless comparisons to Stephen King. Now, with Little Star, his most profoundly unsettling book yet, Lindqvist treads previously unmarked territory.
A man finds a baby in the woods, left for dead. He brings the baby home, and he and his wife raise the girl in their basement. When a shocking and catastrophic incident occurs, the couple’s son Jerry whisks the girl away to Stockholm to start a new life. There, he enters her in a nationwide singing competition. Another young girl who’s never fit in sees the performance on TV, and a spark is struck that will ignite the most terrifying duo in modern fiction.
Little Star is an unforgettable portrait of adolescence, a modern-dayCarrie for the age of internet bullies, offensive reality television, and overnight You Tube sensations. Chilling, unnerving, and petrifying, Little Star is Lindqvist’s most disturbing book to date.
Thank you to Raincoast Books for providing me a copy of this book for review!
The minute I finished reading Little Star, by John Lindqvist, I thought about how spoiled I was to have read his wonderful novel Let the Right One In first. That was a book that grabbed me from the first pages, took me for a ride, and wouldn’t let me go no matter how hard I struggled. The next book I read was Harbour, which wasn’t as good as Let the Right One In, but still an interesting and creepy read. So when I read the premise for Little Star — a story which stars out with a baby found in the woods — I had my hopes set high. It sounded like it would be a creepy and horrifying read from start to finish.
While I did enjoy the book, I found myself struggling to find words when I placed it next to Lindqvist’s other works. Really, this book starts out so strong and it grabbed hold of me and jostled me around. I felt uncomfortable and intrigued — the first section of this story being the best part of the book. But after that, things changed. New characters were introduced and a different storyline — the whole thing of which I read wondering what it had to do with the first story. This is one of the reasons that I didn’t like this book as much as I wanted to; I felt like I was taken to the top of a mountain, only to be shown a mediocre view from the top.
The main characters in this novel (that is, the first characters introduced to me) were the standout characters of the book. Lennart was a man I couldn’t come to like and didn’t want to like, even when his demeanour changed. I was unsure of the baby he found in the woods from the very start — I mean, what kind of baby can hold a perfect note right from the get go? I felt sorry for Lennart’s wife, Laila, as her story started to unfold. I questioned their son Jerry and his motives. These are the characters I wanted to read about for the entirety of the book.
But things change and the story takes a turn towards something I was unsure of and still feel unsure of as I write this. I think a lot of my hesitation rests in the fact that this book, unlike the last two books I’ve read by Lindqvist, doesn’t rely on any supernatural elements. It’s just a book about a girl who’s born a little bit like the guy in American Psycho, and another girl who becomes like that guy. It’s all a psychological thing. But I wanted explanations. I mean, THE BABY COULD SING A PERFECT NOTE AS A BABY! That’s not right. The child felt NO pain and had instincts to kill other human beings.
In the end, I was left with more questions than answers. Lindqvist relied more on gore and violence to tell his story and I wondered how the characters managed to get as far as they did without, say, a cop or a therapist getting in their way.
Though, Lindqvist can tell a story, despite my questions. I still found myself intrigued the whole way through wondering where the story was going to go, wondering what insane turn the characters would take next. I wouldn’t say that I was scared while reading the book at all. Like I said, Lindqvist relies more on gore and disturbing scenes to tell his story. I was uncomfortable at times, but not once did I wonder what was lurking in the shadows or under the bed. Part of me wanted that thrill, that horror that would make me keep the lights on at night.
If you’re a fan of Lindqvist’s work, you’ll want to check out this novel, but if you’re like me, you’ll know that it won’t hold a candle to his debut supernatural vampire tale.
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