What a strange and unexpected book Little Star is. I found it shelved under Horror in my local library, yet it’s unlike any horror novel I’ve ever read. It’s also about teenage girls, but it’s not YA. It’s about murder, but it’s not Crime. In fact, Star’s genre-defying narrative is part of what makes it so wonderful.
Wonderful might seem a strange word to describe a book as openly macabre as Star, yet it is wonderful. John Ajvide Lindqvist imbues death with humour and finds unexpected light within pitch darkness. This is a book where I smiled and smiled and smiled through a chapter where one character attacks another with a champagne flute. I smiled! Because it was… cute? (And, no, I’m not unhinged. It’s just that kind of book.)
Nominally about a washed-up-and-dysfunctional Swedish pop singer who finds a baby abandoned in the woods and decides to raise her away from outside influences that might damage her other-worldly singing talent, Star’s narrative takes a number of surprising twists.
This is a book that is, variously, about reality TV singing competitions, internet trolling and murder. Soundtracked by the songs of Abba and Bright Eyes (as in Conor Oberst, not bunnies), this is – to put it mildly – not your average murder novel.
I found Ajvide Lindqvist’s break-out first novel Let the Right One In captivating in places, but weighed down by too much build-up. Star suffers a little from the same kind of overwriting, but Ajvide Lindqvist keeps a much tighter handle on this narrative. The novel may be long, but it’s gripping. (Tip: even if you hate the first 50 pages of Star, keep reading. I almost gave up on it and, wow, am I glad I didn’t!)
Star is not a book that everyone will enjoy, but if you like your fiction a little bit fucked-up, I’d wager you’ll love it.