John Ajvide Lindqvist – Little Star
Original Title: Lilla Stjärna
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Lennart and Laila had been second-tier music stars. One day, Lennart finds a little baby who does not cry, does not mumble, only sings. When Lennart brings the baby home, they find themselves inadvertently raising a dangerous creature.
John Ajvide Lindqvist’s latest novel to be translated into English centers on influence as a force. Little Star’s damaged and dangerous characters are unapologetically both victims and perpetrators. Yet what is more terrifying: when their limited perspectives are more obviously warped, or when one can sympathize with how they feel?
Enter the light joys of pop. The little girl’s mesmerizing voice performs everything from pure tones to ABBA and David Bowie. Music brings a breath of happiness to these lives of emotional turmoil. Yet actions born of misunderstandings and urges abruptly tear that peace from their grasp.
Choices made at coincidental paths lead these people towards their downfall. The little girl grows up believing that adults are determined to eat the young, and in some ways this is shown as true. The bonds between people are also shown to be beneficial and destructive, echoing the duality of its angel-faced monster. As separate arcs wind together, the undulating tone of sympathy and remove leads the readers to scenes of shocking brutality.
The violence, though extreme, is presented as the inevitable outcome of an us vs. them mindset. How the characters classify themselves, how they slice explicit divisions between others, contrasts with the ambiguous nature of the novel, its refusal to clearly state its supernatural or psychological strangeness. Gripping and potent, Little Star finds horror in both the depraved and tender aspects of human nature.