To be honest, this book took longer to finish than expected. At certain points in my reading journey I really felt the urge to give up and throw Jonas Jonasson’s book in my unread/unfinished book pile. I was disappointed with The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden, because it was a sad follow-up to Jonasson’s widely-acclaimed novel “The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared”. Whereas the latter was an exciting exposition of a man who traveled the world and coincidentally happened to be in the right place and time, his new novel was more of a plain story of a South African woman who has an interesting journey as a result of sheer luck.
I don’t know why this book felt so long or took me a long time to finish, it had all of Jonas Jonasson’s elements in it: an extremely lucky and quick-witted character, bungling antagonists, over-the-top personalities and an extremely far-fetched story meant to tickle the funny bone. Unfortunately Jonasson tries to stuff too many events in the book and fill up pages with overly long drawn descriptions that fail to move the plot even a page closer to the end.
After reading 250 pages of Nombeko’s journey from South Africa to Sweden, there was no resolution to the plot, there was just dialogue after dialogue about one character to the next. At first it was funny but after a while I just wanted the story to be done and over with. The humor gets lost and starts rubbing you the wrong way as the novel inches slowly to the end.
On the other hand, Jonasson’s characters are still funny and interesting, Nombeko has her quick-witted remarks and intellectual prowess to get her out of sticky situations. She is surrounded by characters who have outlandish personalities and situations that drive her from one conundrum to another. There is her dimwitted fraud of a boss, two Israeli agents who can’t seem to get anything right; twins with different personalities, one is an anarchist, the other doesn’t legally exist but is a perfect match for Nombeko. These characters add color to the story but the scope of these characters proves too much as the story gets bigger and bigger.
In the end, Jonasson tries to emulate the same formula that made his first book funny and interesting, but that formula doesn’t work when plot development takes a backseat in favor of character development. The novel falls flat on its face because the tension is absent and