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Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist
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Little Star (original 2010; edition 2012)

by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Marlaine Delargy (Translator)

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2601943,918 (3.68)11
Member:divinenanny
Title:Little Star
Authors:John Ajvide Lindqvist (Author)
Other authors:Marlaine Delargy (Translator)
Info:Quercus (2012), London, Paperback, 632p.
Collections:Your library, eBooks, Read, Read 2012, Favorites, Buy and Get 2012, Readable
Rating:*****
Tags:horror, fiction

Work details

Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist (2010)

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» See also 11 mentions

English (15)  Swedish (2)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (19)
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
At some point you have to give up on authors. You saw something, you enjoyed their work, you hoped for more. But then you try and you try again and it isn't there. And then there will be that work that lets you know "Give it up. Life's too short and whatever you saw before isn't going to happen again."

Little Star represents the end of my struggles with John Ajvide Lindqvist.

It all started so well with Let Me In. The movies were good, but the book was excellent. His strange turn on vampirism and the way he intertwined it with the young people who were the focus of the book were masterful – taking a worn out cliché (vampires) and giving it something new. I took a stab at his next book, Handling the Undead. Not so much this time. His take on zombies (another overly used trope that could stand some refreshing) did nothing but rehash the stories that have been heard before.

And now it all comes to an end because Little Star is nothing more than a disturbing story full of people with whom we have no sympathy, unmotivated actions, and somewhat sick and twisted scenes that seem to exist simply because they are somewhat sick and twisted.

Right off the bat the people are unlikeable. We are introduced to a couple who were almost rock stars in the 70s. It takes all of 18 of the 530+ pages before he slaps her. And something in the way Lindqvist writes it makes us feel that, well, it may not have been deserved, but it was just the way these two interact. They are only secondary characters, but it points to the way Lindqvist treats everyone in the book. Warts and all is fine, but give me more humanity behind the inhumanity. (Sorry, inhumanity overstates it. But for every piece of half-decency explored or exhibited, there seems to be an overabundance of wrongness.)

The crux of this story is actually the small child saved by Lennart – the "gentleman" discussed above. At six months, she has a pure singing voice and, while everything else is stunted, her voice builds to something great. This exploration of her development and the unusual skill that arises are the best part of the book – an interesting premise that Lindqvist starts to do interesting things with.

But then, as if it is time to turn a switch (we're on page 137 and no blood has been spilled yet) murder and death arrive. Such is one of the problems with the book: It feels like Lindqvist is busily writing away when a lightbulb suddenly goes off and he thinks, "Aha, time for some more gore."

Eventually, the now-young-girl finds a somewhat kindred spirit, and they begin writing music together. And then, they develop a rather creepy following. Damaged individuals become twisted.

I will not fault Lindqvist for trying something that seems different. His attempts to lay the foundation for what occurs in the way the children are raised while still admitting they have natural flaws, and the use of music as a catalyst are interesting. However, there seems to be too much effort in making sure that the story is disturbing. It is a reach that feels false and misleading.

There is a bloodbath at the end (I don't think I give away too much with this) and it all just feels contrived, tacked on, an attempt to show for shows sake.

I'll end with the caveat that this is not a genre I read often because, when I do, it usually doesn't work for me. So, you have to take my comments with a certain grain of seasoning that works for you. But good stories transcend the genre. And this neither transcends, nor is it any good. ( )
  figre | Dec 16, 2014 |
I really should have liked this. I love horror books that explore the dark and vicious corners of female experience. I loved all the previous Lindqvist books I read.

But I struggled with this one. I kept putting it down and reading other books.

My main problems with it were these:
- Lindqvist works very hard to capture the thoughts and experiences of outcast girls, and mostly does well, but at the most important times it doesn't ring true.
- The writing was much more clumsy than I have come to expect. It may have been a poor translation. But there was far too much telling and repetition for my tastes.

I still finished it, but I thought it could have been better. ( )
  Violetthedwarf | Oct 23, 2014 |
I really should have liked this. I love horror books that explore the dark and vicious corners of female experience. I loved all the previous Lindqvist books I read.

But I struggled with this one. I kept putting it down and reading other books.

My main problems with it were these:
- Lindqvist works very hard to capture the thoughts and experiences of outcast girls, and mostly does well, but at the most important times it doesn't ring true.
- The writing was much more clumsy than I have come to expect. It may have been a poor translation. But there was far too much telling and repetition for my tastes.

I still finished it, but I thought it could have been better. ( )
  Violetthedwarf | Oct 23, 2014 |
A very strong start! The mystery baby, the music, the hiding. Then, Teresa's story, which slowed things down. Then the girls together, which results in actions, and an ending, that seem too far fetched, at least for me. Strange happenings in these pages. ( )
  Stahl-Ricco | Oct 15, 2014 |
The Basics

A man finds a baby alone and dying in the woods. He gives the baby mouth-to-mouth, and when she begins to cry, a pitch perfect music note comes out. This man just so happens to be a former pop star settling into his older years, and to him this child is a miracle in the making. This being a horror novel, she’ll turn out to be quite the opposite.

My Thoughts

Around this same time last year, I read Lindqvist’s most popular work, Let the Right One In, and it’s possibly the best vampire novel written since Salem’s Lot. Needless to say, I couldn’t stop there. I needed more of his work. Little Star caught my attention immediately. I have this strange weakness for horror novels that involve the entertainment industry. A strange child that has a magical talent for singing and becomes some kind of monster via her fame; I knew this was the book for me.

And it didn’t disappoint. I’ll go ahead and warn those of you who like explanations for your monsters that you won’t find one here. I have lots of theories about Theres, but nothing concrete is ever given in the book. Nothing’s even truly speculated about. This book exists solely in the present. Theres’s past is not explored; none of these characters seem overly interested or worried about the future. There’s a sense of focus on the here and now that makes the strange path the two, main characters are on seem even more immediate and speedy, despite the book’s length.

This is a hefty book, speaking of. Yet I read it in two days. The cliche applies: I couldn’t put it down. Even though the prologue is actually an epilogue, I had to find out how we got there. What led to this. And the further it went, the more fascinated I became to see what would come next. This book is a perfect example of how stories aren’t about endings, they’re about the journey. The crazed, bizarre journey.

This book is incredibly character driven, and these are not likeable characters. They are engaging, interesting characters whose inner workings may repel you, but you won’t be able to look away. Most bothersome of all, if you were the sort of kid who was ostracized or picked on or didn’t quite fit in, you might even relate on some level. And when things get really dark, that’s when it will really start to get under your skin, making you question how this makes you feel, if you want to be as attached to these characters as you are. It’s a disturbing experience that got right inside me and left me feeling unlike any book has made me feel before. In short, it was Let the Right One In turned up to eleven, and only the stout of heart need apply.

Final Rating

5/5 ( )
  Nickidemus | Sep 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Ajvide Lindqvistprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Delargy, MarlaineTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Henning J. GundersenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sybesma, EdithTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Alla människor heter egentligen något annat
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Solliden, Skansen.
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Lennart Cederström was walking in the forest when he saw it. A baby girl lying in a plastic bag.

Horrified, he rushed to give her the kiss of life. But what happened next changed his life forever. Her first breath was something astonishing — a perfect musical note. For an aging singer, this incredible chile was irresistible, and Lennart could only hurry her home and take her into his care.

Fearing the watchful eyes of the authorities, Lennart decided to hide his foundling daughter from view. So he and his wife kept her in their basement.

Was what she became Lennart's fault for choosing to hide her? Did the person who abandoned her in the woods know something terrible lay in her future? Or was it just a trick of fate to turn the little star into the most terrifying thing imaginable?

In this, John Ajvide Lindqvist's fourth masterpiece, he effortlessly ratchets up the tension until the story reaches its terrible conclusion. In so doing, he confirms his place as the undisputed new king of horror.

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One autumn day in 1992, former pop singer Lennart Cederström finds something unexpected in the forest — a baby girl in a plastic bag, partially buried. He gives her the kiss of life, and her first cry astounds him; it is a clear, pure musical note. He takes her to his wife and persuades her that they should keep this remarkable child.

But the baby becomes a strange girl, made more unusual by their decision to hide her in their basement to keep her from the prying eyes of government departments. When she reaches puberty, a terrifying scene sees her kill both her parents.

When her scheming adopted brother returns to find her over their bodies, he seizes the opportunity and enters her into an X Factor-style talent competition. She quickly becomes famous. In spite of this, she remains very lonely, until she befriends another damaged girl on the internet. They form a powerful bond and soon create a growing gang of other disgruntled girls and, calling themselves the Wolves, they set out to take revenge for all they've ever suffered.

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Rescuing and raising an abandoned baby girl in the woods, a man enters the child in a singing competition when she develops an astonishingly beautiful voice, a performance that leads to the girl's encounter with another youngster with whom she triggers ahorrifying force.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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