On June 14, 2007, the king and the prime minister of Sweden went missing from a gala banquet at the royal castle. Later it was said that both had fallen ill, but the truth is different. The real story starts much earlier, in 1961, with the birth of Nombeko Mayeki in a shack in Soweto. Nombeko was fated to grow up fast and die early in her poverty-stricken township, be it from drugs, alcohol, or just plain despair. But Nombeko takes a different path. She finds work as a house cleaner and eventually makes her way up to the position of chief adviser, at the helm of one of the world’s most secret projects.
Here is where the tale merges with then diverges from reality. South Africa developed six nuclear missiles in the 1980s, then voluntarily dismantled them in 1994. This is the story of the seventh missile, the one that was never supposed to have existed. Nombeko Mayeki knows too much about it, and now she’s on the run from both the South African justice system and the most terrifying secret service in the world. The fate of the planet now lies in Nombeko’s hands. Goodreads.
The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limit.
I honestly wanted to like this book, now why wouldn’t I? I read the author’s other book (The Hundred-Year-Old man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared) and I was so in love with the story, the characters, the uniqueness of the storytelling that felt so new and fresh for me. There were several friends of mine who said that this book has pushed its limit by putting up the same formula as the other book but with different characters, but do I dare to believe those comments without giving this book a try myself? After a stumble that is 2016, I finally got my hands on this book, and thus began what I eventually thought of as a real chore.
There’s nothing (apart from the interesting tribute to the historical events mentioned in the book) in this book that does not feel like a chore, the feeling of annoyance and indescribable feeling of anger over the storyline and its characters. You would think that Nombeko, as the main character, would be interesting or memorable (much like Allan Karlsson from the author’s other book), but she is as forgettable as the rest of the characters (if not frustrating like Holger one and Celestine). I still can’t believe I manage to finally finished the whole book!
Again, I would refer back to the 100 year old man book that was highly entertaining and educational (in the way that it refers to a real life historical events), and whilst this second book was somewhat educational, the formula and the storytelling can be quite repetitive, especially when one fully enjoyed the first book. I came to read this book expecting the same (if not more) excitement like I had from the first book, but what I ended up having was frustration, anger, and boredom.
The first tell-tale sign that this was going to be frustrating was presented in the form of Ingmar, who seems to be a lovable idiot the first time but ended up as more than a village idiot. He became what an epitome of a person who lets his life withered away, obsessing over something not worth obsessing about, no sense of responsibility and just downright infuriating to see him alive! And when you think it was over, there comes Holger One and Celestine, who I cannot understand is even possible to still be alive even with that huge amount of idiocy on them. How does one capable of so much stupidity and still alive is beyond me. Furthermore, you have Holger Two who I had hope to be the better of the Holgers but ended up as idiotic (although not academically challenged as Holger One) as his twin brother.I think I could spend days just explaining how angry I was with the book, but I shall not for I might spill some spoilers in the process. Let’s just say, apart from the many interesting mentioned of real life historical events, there’s nothing about this book that I had enjoyed. Not even the ending!
THE ENDING!!! Countless of pages have gone by only to have that as the ending??? Makes me wonder, what was the point of the story? Where Allan’s (from the 100 year old man book) adventures were filled with friends and interesting characters, Nombeko’s ill adventures were just filled with stupidity and annoyance, and when the book ends, you wondered what was the whole point of those stories and adventures? If the epilogue was an indication of the point of the story, then it’s even more baffling to me!
And, if I’m being very technical, I don’t think Nombeko ever did really save the King (or even there was enough reason to have the King being saved by someone else). Oops, there goes a bit of a spoiler.
Maybe? I don’t know. You know what? On second thought, I wouldn’t recommend it, but I would recommend the 100 year old man book. Definitely. Most definitely.
Title: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden
Author: Jonas Jonasson
Genre: Contemporary, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Humour