Handling the Undead by John Ajvide Lindqvist
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When one reads a novel in one’s native language, it’s easy to identify whether the writing is excellent, the characters and situations well-delineated, and the plot exceptional. I’m sure something similar, or close to it, must be true when a reader is multilingual, and can read in the original version of another language. But when a reader-say, a native English-speaker-can only read in translation from another language, that reader is then at the mercy of the translator’s talent as well as of the original author’s gift. For example, the Jo Nesbo mysteries have been translated by one person, and both the novels and the translator’s gift of writing are extraordinary. I found this to be true with Lars Kepler’s The Hypnotist too (also translated from the original language).
But when a reader is confined to a translation, and doesn’t find a book particularly intriguing, how does she know if it is due to the original author, or to the translator? Such is the case with John Ajvide Lindquist’s “Handing the Undead.” I chose it, of course, for its subject matter. I know that the author had quite an acclaimed bestseller with his earlier vampire novel, “Let the Right One In,” which is on my TBR list. I just did not find “Handling the Undead” as stirring as I had expected. Granted, the characterizations are quite well-tuned. The setting and locale is clearly delineated-very helpful for a reader who has never lived in nor visited that region. What I don’t know is whether the writing style comes down to the author, or to the translator-I suppose I would have to read another novel by this author translated by a different individual in order to be certain. I also did not find that the plot particularly hung together for me; it seemed that the electrical impulse which affected both the migraines for humans and animals, and all electrical appliances within range, did not adhere to the “resurrection” occurrences. Again, that may be just my interpretation; or it may be the translation; or it may be the author. Guess I will have to read a couple of his other works to see.
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