In LITTLE STAR by John Ajvide Lindqvist, a man finds a baby in the woods and brings her home, raising her in his basement. The girl is strange for two reasons. First, she is virtually autistic. Second, she has an almost supernatural singing ability. After a shocking and catastrophic event, the man’s son Jerry takes the girl to Stockholm to start a new life, and enters her in a singing competition.
Another young girl, a social outcast, sees the performance on TV, beginning a friendship that will, according to the book promotion, “ignite the most terrifying duo in modern fiction ... LITTLE STAR is an unforgettable portrait of adolescence, a modern-day Carrie for the age of Internet bullies, offensive reality television, and overnight You Tube sensations. Chilling, unnerving and petrifying, LITTLE STAR is Lindqvist’s most disturbing book to date.”
I really enjoyed this book. Lindqvist’s writing improves with every new novel he writes, and his plots are varied and interesting. His writing style has a technical quality to it that is strangely soothing once you get used to it. It’s the most focused of his books–his other works, such as HANDLING THE UNDEAD, were often diluted by other strange events and plot twists that were important in their own right but had little to do with the central plot, which I found distracting. Like his other works, it’s very long, giving the story a lived-in quality with plenty of world building; often the narrative ebbs and flows rather than progresses forward to the conclusion. As for the story, he captures the essence of adolescent angst (with its visions of lashing out) perfectly.
My only complaint was the ending. From the first pages, the story suggested something bigger, and I was hoping it would end with a much bigger bang. As it was, I didn’t find it very shocking and horrific because after such a long setup, the events in the closing pages were long expected. I also found the ending violence pointless because it was essentially unjustified. For me, the real horror occurred in little moments scattered throughout the book–a man’s jealous rage and its terrifying consequences, a vicious son’s menace, a child’s horrifying violence perpetrated for innocent reasons.
If you like Lindqvist, you’re going to love LITTLE STAR. If you haven’t read him before, I would still recommend the read. It’s original, well written and fun.