The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson


(THIS IS A SPOILER): Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s actually a woman in her mid-forties who saves the king.

A comedy of coincidences, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden takes place over thirty years in the life of Nombeko Mayeki and the Swedes who assist her in aforementioned saving (but don’t get any credit in the title). In the beginning, Nombeko is a teenage girl living in the Soweto slums of South Africa. She is incredibly intelligent, not afraid to challenge authority, and is quite capable of taking care of herself. After being hit by the car of an alcoholic engineer, Nombeko becomes a voluntary prisoner for almost ten years in a nuclear research facility. When one too many atomic bombs are manufactured, Nombeko finds herself and a bomb shipped off to Sweden where, unfortunately, she gets stuck with the bomb for the next twenty years. In Sweden, Nombeko’s life becomes entwined with twins with a serious identity problem, the girlfriend of one of the twins who is an angry anarchist in the making, her grandmother who may or may not be a countess, and various other characters, including the King of Sweden!

Jonas Jonasson writes in a very light-hearted style with lots of tongue-in-cheek, nudge-nudge wink-wink jokes, so it was a fun book to read. Due to its comedic nature, I can see this book easily being turned into a movie. I was impressed with Nombeko Mayeki as a capable female character, the tactful and quiet leader of the Swedish family she becomes a part of in the book. Since the story takes place over thirty years, another thing that impressed me was how Jonasson successfully infused the story with politics and history, so that I got quite an at-a-glance education on a number of issues and significant historical events.

I thought the book had a strong start, but after the first-half of the story things began to feel a little too drawn out. I started to become impatient with the characters as years would go by and nothing had changed either about them or the sticky situation they were in. How could there be zero character growth or maturity after thirty years? How could they sit around and do nothing about the bomb? Then as the next crazy incident happened and then the next, I felt that the story had devolved into groan-worthy silliness. But maybe that’s what the author intended and I was taking everything too seriously.

Even though I felt the story turned out to be a tad silly, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden proved to me that Mr. Jonasson has a wonderful imagination and great insight into the ways of the world and the stupidity of us human beans. I really liked how he added complexity by interweaving politics and history into the story. I think anyone who wanted a charming, light read would enjoy this book. In the meantime, I will look forward to movie.


6 comments on “The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson

  1. A.M.B.
    May 22, 2014

    Thanks for the review! I’ve been very curious about this book. I really liked the dark, dry humor of Jonas Jonasson’s The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window And Disappeared.


    • ebookclassics
      May 22, 2014

      Thanks for stopping by! I haven’t read The 100-Year Old Man, but so many people I know I liked it, so I thought I would give this book a try. I always worry that if I write anything negative, people may mistakenly think I don’t like the book. This book was very well-written and has many good qualities, just the overall storyline fell flat for me.


  2. Naomi
    May 22, 2014

    I think it should be called The 40 Year Old Woman Who Saved the King of Sweden. 🙂

    I haven’t read this book, but I did read some of the 100 Year Old Man book, and your description of it being on the silly side and becoming impatient with it, is exactly how I felt. I didn’t even finish it in the end, although, to be fair, I think at the time I had a bunch of library books that all came in at once and I had to be picky. I probably would have liked it if I had finished it, but I think it just wasn’t really my type of book.


    • ebookclassics
      May 23, 2014

      Since so many people loved The 100-Year Old Man, so I thought this book would be a sure thing.


  3. Ellie
    May 23, 2014

    I’m so excited to read this book as I loved the 100 Year Old Man. My sister is reading it first so I’m going to have to wait. I found that a little bit on the silly side at times but his imagination is fantastic and sometimes a little bit of silly is all you need! Thanks for the review 😀


    • ebookclassics
      May 23, 2014

      Oh, it’s so hard waiting for a book, isn’t it? I would really love to hear what you think of the book after you read it. He really does have a fantastic imagination and I was really impressed with how he added politics and history into the story with such humour.


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