Book Review: Quick Sand by Malin Persson Giolito
This is the second book I have read this month about how relationships with the wrong man can get you into some serious trouble. In this case, it is a boy, rather than a man, but I hear they grow into men eventually, although I am still waiting on some of you.
Eighteen-year-old Maja Norberg is on trial. There’s been a school shooting, and she has been charged for her involvement in it with her boyfriend, the rich and charismatic Sebastian Fagerman. A terrifying premise in a world where unfortunately this is not an uncommon occurrence. Although usually the perpetrators are on the fringe, World of Warcraft addicted outcasts. In Quicksand, Sebastian is wildly popular, famous for his parties, and so hot and wealthy that even Maja’s parents approve.
Maja herself is a typical teenager. Oh sure, she dances topless and suggestively at parties, takes drugs and drinks too much, but hey, all in a night’s work for the young and restless. What really makes her authentic I think is her complete disdain for adults, particularly her mother. Maja turns every kind thing her mother does into something selfish and stupid. I can identify with this, having had three daughters, and I can tell you that when they are teenagers everything you do will be selfish and stupid, as well as highly embarrassing. They turn out really nice in the end though, so there’s that.
Maja’s lawyer wants desperately win the case, to have her acquitted by the courts and found totally innocent for the role she played in the killings. Not because he thinks she is innocent, but because it’s his job. Also it looks good on the resume. Maja on the other hand is apathetic about her defense, apathy being another characteristic of the young. She also wants to be punished, for whatever part she might have played in the school slaying. Her guilt, as you can imagine is severe. What could she have done differently? How could she have stopped Sebastian? Could she have stopped him? The boy that she was enamored with at first, but eventually just scared of and unable to find a way to extricate herself from the relationship.
Much like Araminta Hall’s Our Kind of Cruelty this is a cautionary tale. Watch who you hitch your wagon to, ladies. When justice comes looking for a culprit, they like to find reasons for outrageously violent behavior. No one wants to believe that a popular good looking young boy is capable of mowing down his classmates. But a popular, good looking boy with a scheming girlfriend that drove him to do it? That makes people better able to sleep at night.
Maja doesn’t sleep so well, as she waits in prison isolation to find out her fate. Sure, the story is dark and ironic (Giolito is Swedish after all), but it’ll keep you turning pages to find out her fate as well, not because she is a sweet, innocent character or a black hearted monster, but because she is all these things at once. She is a teenage girl, like I said.
But then again, what do I know? Everything I do is stupid and embarrassing.
You can find out more about Quicksand and Malin Persson Giolito at the Other Press website. Malin won best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year for Quicksand. That’s like winning best tulips in Amsterdam.