John Ajvide Lindqvist – Handling the Undead

Original Title: Hanteringen av Odöda
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Genre: Drama/Horror

I am probably the most unlikely person to either talk about horror or talk about a book about the undead, but as people may or may not know, I was a huge fan of Lindqvist’s Let the Right One In — both book and Swedish adaptation, not so much of Let Me In.

So when Handling the Undead made its way into a translation, I couldn’t help but get my hands on it. The book chronicles a series of events before and after a huge phenomenon that made the “newly deceased” wake up and walk the streets of Stockholm, Sweden.

Though the reanimation of the dead is obviously a horror element, Handling the Undead deals with the story from its dramatic point of view. The original reaction shows, not only people freaking out from seeing dead people returning to their regular routines, but also deals with rising health issues for the government and the political action to handle them — which may or may not turn into total chaos. The book also has religious undertones and talks about the rights of the undead.

Lindqvist also never forgets the human element. He introduces us to David, who recently lost his wife in an accident, but finds himself eye to eye with her when she suddenly awakens at the morgue. Then there’s old Mahler, who lost his grandchild just a bit ago and rushes off to his grave to see if it’s true, that the dead have awoken. Finally, there’s the rebellious Flora, who’s at grandmother Elvy’s house after the passing of her grandpa.

Unlike Let the Right One In, Handling the Undead never truly feels like a horror story except for a chapter in which the ambiance described made you feel a little bit chilly. As a whole, however, the book’s better aspects are its grief and drama, which make you examine your own history with your deceased relatives and maybe, just maybe, reach that point where you actually tear up a little bit thinking about those memories and the would-have-beens.

The question I want to ask all of you is what would you do in that situation? What would you do if your dead relative or friend returned as if nothing had happened?

Rating: ★★★¾☆ 

Get it on Amazon


YAM Magazine editor, photographer, blogger, translator and part-time web designer. Film junkie, music junkie… and lately series (a.k.a. TV) junkie.

9 Responses

  1. Peter says:

    I love that book. Im definitely gonna re-read it one more time. The best thing about the book is the logistic problem the awakening causes. The thing about his books the bugs me a little is that the reason why the dead wakes up is kind of blurry and undefined. Great review anyhow :)

    • amy says:

      @Peter, yeah. I was also waiting for an explanation of why it happened or what was going on with it… but then I told myself that the book wasn’t about how they managed to wake up again. xD I loved the logistics of the book, though. I actually… I don’t know what would become of the media and mass hysteria if something like that actually happen.

      Can you imagine Twitter trends? xD

      Then… I don’t watch Torchwood, but the commercials they run on BBC Entertainment reminded me of this book with that Miracle Day spin-off. Instead, it seems it’s about people not dying for a day… xD

  2. @amy, I didn’t know about that book! I’ll try and check it out.

  1. August 30, 2016

    […] been always fascinated with the exploration of Death and the After Life on media [see also Handling the Undead], alongside themes of loss, of course. So Laika’s most recent outing, Kubo and the Two […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.