I really wanted to like this one. After all, it’s about a school shooting in another country, one you wouldn’t quite expect a school shooting to take place in: Sweden. And yet, there are so many problems with this one, and after trying to read it for a couple of months, I managed to finish it and endured one of the most rage-inducing endings I’ve ever fucking read.
So yes, there will be spoilers. I’m doing you a favor, though. Life is way too short to slog through five-hundred pages of some psychopath bitching about her shitty little rich girl life.
The story is rather simple for such a long novel: eighteen year old Maria Norberg, aka Maja, is charged with murdering her friend, Amanda, and inciting the murder of her boyfriend’s father, Claes Fagerman, richest man in Sweden. The school shooting in question was largely staged by her boyfriend, Sebastian, and for some stupid reason she came along for the ride, and ended up shooting Amanda before turning her gun on Sebastian.
The story starts at the beginning of her trial, which is, undoubtedtly the most interesting part of the novel. A great deal of it consists of flashbacks that are supposed to establish who Maja is as a person and the deterioration of her relationship with Sebastian. However, these sections are deathly boring and far too much is spent on the mundane, irrelevant details of Maja and Sebastian’s lives.
Maja is like a typical European teenager, I guess – highly atheist and promiscuous. Friendly with drugs. Very, very leftist and self-righteous. Sebastian is the Ugly Racist European.
The author has a massive cornucopia of issues in this novel – immigration, mental illness, family dynamics, drug use, blah blah blah. You’d think you were reading some Swedish chick’s personal Tumblr or something with the way it’s written, because it’s written entirely in the first person perspective – from Maja’s point of view, naturally. So we, the unfortunate reader, are stuck with Maja’s stupid and uninformed opinion about EVERYTHING – the way her legal team looks, the way the prosecution looks, how her prison cell is, etc.
There’s also a lot of bitchy one-liners that I guess are supposed to come off as clever and funny, but aren’t. Maja, if she were a real person, would be the last person I’d ever want to be friends with.
Also, near the end she keeps going on and on about how she regrets shooting Amanda, and reminisces about the things they did together, but honestly, it comes across as a sociopath trying to fucking emote. Like a sociopath trying to convince us that they have feelings and empathy, and failing miserably. Not once was I ever convinced that she even gave a shit about Amanda or Sebastian and his severe problems with his father. All she ever seemed to care about was avoiding a life sentence, and everything she said and did was in service to that.
Not only that, Maja was quite obviously offended at anyone that didn’t actually believe in her “innocence.” She would actually address the reader, telling us we’re not good people and that we don’t have empathy if we think she could seriously and honestly kill her friend.
I had to roll my eyes at the inclusion of the character Samir Said. Now, I’m an eeeeevil right-winger, and I know all about the horrible problems Sweden’s having with their charming and wonderful Muslim migrants. The author, rather predictably, paints Samir as a virtuous, super smart angel. There is one scene in which Sebastian, Maja and Samir are all in the school lecture hall or whatever, listening to some American woman give a lecture about something. Samir speaks up and spouts a whole bunch of standard leftist talking points on immigration and racism. Sebastian, predictably, acts like the Ugly and Angry White Guy. Maja gets super wet for Samir and ends up sleeping with him. Sebastian knows, and tells her to wear a condom. Not that he’s happy about it, obviously, but Maja doesn’t care. Chicks can’t resist that hawt leftist propaganda, after all!
BIG SPOILER INCOMING
Okay, that’s your last warning. So, after the handful of scenes concerning the trial, what is the court’s verdict? Well, no thanks to Samir’s disastrous testimony (he testified for the prosecution; presumably upset at Maja deciding to ditch him for her Rich White Boyfriend), the court finds our little atheist slut INNOCENT of all charges.
Yep. Even though it’s pretty damn obvious that while Sebastian likely kinda-sorta goaded her into picking up the gun, she still shot her best friend and tried to pass it off as “like, I was trying to find the safety switch.”
You were going to try to find the safety switch. Why? Because you “accidentally” shot your friend, and then shot your boyfriend. Were you going to find the safety switch, or were you going to shoot Sebastian?
Whatever. It’s just a fucking novel, and it hardly matters, I guess. Plus, I only paid about two dollars for this (as of this writing, it’s still on sale for $1.99, so go for it if you’re a masochist).
If you want to read a good book about a school shooting, read Hate List by Jennifer Brown. It’s a YA novel, but it’s GOOD. So very good. I read it a few years ago, and I might have to re-read it.
Anyway, this five-hundred page novel was turned into a six-episode miniseries, of which is on Netflix. I plan on watching it. Given that it’s only six episodes I figure it’ll be better than the book.