How catchy and outrageous can a title get?
More than you can imagine. On the surface, you would think that this is just one of those novels with the basic 'around-the-world-in-XX-days' premise or perhaps another adventure and romp through 'space and time.' But this one is an exemption deserving to earn the reader's attention, especially for somebody out there who loves history and travel. This is not just an adventure story of one person--a centenarian with a Masters in Explosives title in his proverbial "resume," but a story of a group--and how they were able to unite themselves like a family when only weeks ago they were perfect strangers to each other, some even wanting to kill another. What the F right?
It's so tempting to compare Allan Emmanuel Karlsson with Forrest Gump. I can see it from book reviews in Amazon, Shelfari, and Goodreads. But I refuse to compare the two even if they have something in common, and that is coming from the simple lifestyle in the suburbs. The two may be fruits, but you can't compare apples to oranges (or to lift a comparison from the book--you can't compare vodka to banana liquor). With or without being aware of it, Forrest Gump have done something for American history. But Allan Karlsson have done lots of things for World History in crazy and funny ways. If you love WWII stories, you will appreciate this book more. Allan Karlsson provided his expertise and antics in World History after meeting an all-star cast of characters like General Franco, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Harry Truman, Winston Churchill, Joseph Stalin, Soong May-ling, Chiang Kai-shek, Mao Tse-tung, Kim Il Sung, the young Kim Jong Il, Lyndon Johnson, Charles De Gaulle, and Richard Nixon. And to top it all, there's an elephant, and a dog to join the party too.
As a novel I can say it's well-written by a Swedish author with a background in journalism. After Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo, the popular Nordic invasion of Western Literature rages on and it is here, surprisingly in the form of a funny story by Jonas Jonasson. It's a welcome and a cool departure too from serious themes of murder and detection by Larsson and Nesbo.
If you're a Filipino, just take it easy on the notoriety of formalin-induced Swedish meatballs made in the Philippines mentioned twice in the novel. Formaldehyde is of course, not country specific and anyone can do it anywhere but at least, it's nothing against the cardboard-filled Siopao buns made in China. Your choice--Bola-bola or Asado?
Genre: Historical Fiction, Adventure & Comedy
Rating: 4.5 bags of Swedish meatballs from the Philippines