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Handling the Undead Hardcover – Sep 28 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books; Reprint edition (Sept. 28 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312605250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312605254
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 15.2 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #276,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Format: Hardcover
I received this book as a gift and loved it.
It's a completely different take on zombies that I have never seen before.
Handling the Dead isn't your typical zombie gore, shoot em in the head, run for your lives, type of novel.
If you're looking for something different in the zombie genre, I highly recommend this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Swystun TOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 19 2011
Format: Hardcover
I have not yet read Lindqvist's "Let the Right One In" but now intend to. Not that "Handling the Undead" is perfect - it has pace issues, some characters are better imagined than others, and there is some general confusion in plot. However, having said all that, it is subtle, unsettling and will stay with you for some time once finished which deserves credit.

It is not a traditional zombie novel and I am thankful for that. There are too many zombie novels coming off what seems like an assembly line and most are poor and repetitive. Lindqvist instead chooses to make such a phenomena as re-animated loved ones as real as emotionally possible. He does so through a handful of characters who experience the real horror of such an event displaying believable psychological and humanistic reactions. It is an intelligent take on the genre and, though flawed, is still a laudable and interesting book.
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By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on Aug. 25 2011
Format: Hardcover
"Handling the Undead" is a zombie book. But not the typical gory, horrendous BRAAAAAAINSSSS-craving type. Instead John Ajvinde Lindquist slowly weaves together an intelligent, philosophical look at what would happen if the dead were to unnaturally rise from their graves... and the only flaw is that the middle section of the book is so SLOW.

Something strange is happening in Stockholm -- the weather is oppressive, electrical glitches are everywhere, and everybody has a headache.

But when the strange conditions vanish, everybody who has died within the last two months rises from the morgue, funeral homes, and even their coffins. The "reliving" wander back to their old homes, mute and seemingly unaware, shocking their loved ones. And of course, the government quickly rounds them up and confines them, until they can be sure what dangers the "reliving" might pose.

In the days that follow, Lindqvist follows five people whose loved ones have come back -- a comedian sunk deep in denial about his wife being gone, a wannabe-rebel teen, a grandfather and a young mother trying to help her undead son "recover," and a widow who believes that she has a mission from the Virgin Mary. But something else is approaching Stockholm, bringing unexpected effects in its wake.

"Handling the Undead" doesn't really focus on the zombies themselves. Instead, Lindqvist conjures up a simple scenario, and examines how people would react to it -- we see hysteria, suicide, denial, dismissal, religious fervor, and a delusional belief that the zombies can simply go back to their old lives. And he brings up a number of philosophical questions with no easy answers.

The biggest problem with this book is that it should have been much smaller.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 91 reviews
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
"The stiffs. The corpses. In the morgue. They've come back to life." May 5 2010
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Handling the Undead" is a zombie book. But not the typical gory, horrendous BRAAAAAAINSSSS-craving type. Instead John Ajvinde Lindquist slowly weaves together an intelligent, philosophical look at what would happen if the dead were to unnaturally rise from their graves... and the only flaw is that the middle section of the book is so SLOW.

Something strange is happening in Stockholm -- the weather is oppressive, electrical glitches are everywhere, and everybody has a headache.

But when the strange conditions vanish, everybody who has died within the last two months rises from the morgue, funeral homes, and even their coffins. The "reliving" wander back to their old homes, mute and seemingly unaware, shocking their loved ones. And of course, the government quickly rounds them up and confines them, until they can be sure what dangers the "reliving" might pose.

In the days that follow, Lindqvist follows five people whose loved ones have come back -- a comedian sunk deep in denial about his wife being gone, a wannabe-rebel teen, a grandfather and a young mother trying to help her undead son "recover," and a widow who believes that she has a mission from the Virgin Mary. But something else is approaching Stockholm, bringing unexpected effects in its wake.

"Handling the Undead" doesn't really focus on the zombies themselves. Instead, Lindqvist conjures up a simple scenario, and examines how people would react to it -- we see hysteria, suicide, denial, dismissal, religious fervor, and a delusional belief that the zombies can simply go back to their old lives. And he brings up a number of philosophical questions with no easy answers.

The biggest problem with this book is that it should have been much smaller. Lindqvist spends most of the book's middle section spinning his wheels, with nothing really happening. And we never really find out WHY the dead rose, just that it is somehow an error.

Fortunately the beginning and ending are filled with subtle, creeping psychological horror (the whole scene with the grotesque drowned zombie is nauseating), as well as the painful scene where David and Magnus meet Eva again. And there's an exquisite metaphysical edge, which implies that there's more out there than just zombies -- think an elusive, benevolent figure with fishhook fingertips.

Lindqvist also fleshes out his characters beautifully, giving each one a backstory that shapes their current reactions. And he handles each one with compassion, even if they're delusional or twerpy. Among the best are David (desperately clinging to hope and unable to grieve), Flora (a rather annoying a teen who thinks she's an iconoclast), and Anna (whose son Elias has "come back") -- and even some of the zombies show a glimmer of personality.

"Handling the Undead" is a deeply flawed book -- the entire middle section is bogged down. Yet it's still a beautiful, affecting read.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
"He opened his eyes and saw the mass of biological tissue that hopped and skipped its way down the stairs. . ." Feb. 19 2011
By Mark Louis Baumgart - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
"Handling The Undead" (which was originally called "Hanteringen Av Odöda" in Sweden) is the long second novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist (and translated by Ebba Segerberg) and it centers around three couples of people, and how an extraordinary situation effects them. These three couples are David and his son Magnus, Mahler and his daughter Anna, and Elvy and her granddaughter Flora, both of whom are mildly psychic.

David is a stand-up comedian whose wife is killed in a car accident on the day of the reliving, and he is traumatized twice as he has to identify his wife's damaged body in the morgue, and he is then there when she awakes. Mahler is a photo journalist who sees the arisen dead in the hospital morgue when he realizes that his grandson, who had died previously, is probably waking up while buried in the cemetery. He then rushes to the cemetery and digs him up by hand. Then there is young Goth-girl Flora who is visiting Elvy when granddad comes home.

This novel of Sweden's great reliving takes place over the short period of a week (August 13-17). And Lindqvist's reliving aren't your garden variety zombies; only those recently dead within the last two months are those who are coming back to life. Yet, unexplained in the novel all those that die on the day after the dead's reliving and afterwards stay dead. Then there is the fact people become able to pick up the thoughts of others when they are around the reliving, which is bad news and leads to some chaos.

Lindqvist's characters all take this resurrection differently; Mahler becomes obsessive of his grandson and daughter while his daughter, who is in a deep depression over her son's death, becomes overly protective of her son. Elvy is confused, but after seeing what she thinks is a vision of the Virgin Mary becomes a religious fanatic, and is convinced that she is supposed to herald the resurrection of Christ, only Flora is curious as to what it all means, while having visions of her own.

Lindqvist is being touted as being the Swiss Stephen King, and it shows. This is a bloated, often slow-moving novel, which has a lot King's trademarked sloppy plotting in which an idea often takes the place for plot and pacing, and in which the idea itself is never really well thought out and developed. "Handling The Undead" is easily a novel that could have been cut down to two hundred pages or less. David and his son Magnus, for instance, accomplish absolutely nothing that couldn't be handled by a minor character and could have been cut entirely from the novel with absolutely no loss to the story structure. Another character that could have been cut is Peter, Flora's friend. Dull and incurious, he just takes up space, and in the end, even Elvy does nothing to further the plot, as ultimately she accomplishes nothing, and her plotline goes nowhere. Of the rest, most just become intolerably unsympathetic, with only Flora being OF interest and accomplishing anything OF interest. What was needed is a character that represents some form of authority as Lindqvist constantly throws infodumps in the form of summaries (?), transcripts of interviews, and newspaper & radio leads and stories, randomly into the story. This causes Lindqvist to be CONSTANTLY telling us, instead of showing us what is happening.

This goes for the reliving also. After their resurrection they do nothing but wander around and do things by rote. Only Eva, David's recently dead wife, and Elias, Mahler's grandson do anything of interest, and even then it's pretty unfocused and eventually pointless. Eva, being recently dead is the only reliving person who can talk, and then, what? Elias on the other hand becomes Lindqvist's surrogate for autism as through Mahler's thankless administrations he becomes sentient and mobile. But, at the end of this plotline nothing is accomplished either. If the return of the dead and their eventual redeath is supposed to be some meditation on death and how we react to it, and what death itself means, as Lindqvist touches on, then the novel fails at that also.

"Handling The Undead" starts off well, and has a good idea buried in it, but Lindqvist has neither the talent nor the imagination to do anything with it. This becomes more and more obvious as the novel drags itself forward, and it's pointlessness is obvious when we reach the end and nothing is explained or accomplished. Loose plotlines involving the novel's characters are left dangling, and random death at the end. There is no real explanation is offered as to why the dead rise, and why they re-die, except in some form of obtuse metaphysical way is ever given. Although Lindqvist constantly, and lamely, compares the undead with the autistic, it's a comparison that falls flat.

All-in-all this is a novel that is in desperate need of pruning and an editor, it's too long, too meandering, too unfocused, and too unimaginative to rate anything more than two stars.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Less Max Brooks, More Raymond Carver ... Jan. 19 2013
By Dr. E - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Foremost, I think it is crucial to note that fans of the American film Let Me In may not enjoy this novel. I have read a number of (unfair) erroneous reviews from a variety of sources that attempt to compare these two pieces. Lindqvist's vampire-book, has very little resemblance to its American adaptation (that dodged all commentary on fear of immigration and sexual-orientation). The director of the original adaptation, Låt den Rätte Komma in and Lindqvist have very few words of praise for this film. Therefore, I find it only fair to both the author and the potential reader to note that Lindqvist's work is nothing like the American rewrite of a truly amazing novel/film. So, enter into this newer piece clean and you will not be disappointed.

With this said, Handling the Undead is a pitch-perfect novel. The brilliant construction easily allows for suspension-of-disbelief ... the characters' own struggle to understand the bizarre events that have resurrected the dead mirror the readers' own struggle. We enter into this strange new world with these compelling characters. And, this is also part of the novel's success: each character is beautifully rendered. We quickly grow attached to them and mourn their personal hell. (The following is not a spoiler ... it can be found in the back of the novel). For example, we enmesh ourselves in the everyday life of a comedian/performer and his family. In the span of a few short pages, we discover his unflagging love for his wife and child. We experience the death of his wife with him ... we feel his pain. The same can be said of the grandfather (and reporter) who had recently lost his grandson. His despair is palpable. In sum, these characters become important to us. And, in this sense, this is Lindqvist's gift. Readers experienced the same compassion for the characters in Låt den Rätte Komma in.

If the potential reader is an aficionado of gore and horror, this may not be an appropriate choice. The exposition is fairly long (about fifty pages) ... and thoroughly enjoyable. Lindqvist isn't interested in creating a text dripping with blood. This is a slow, "pleasurable" plow through a chilling nightmare. One does not need patience to read this novel ... one should simply approach it as literature (as opposed to a flesh-ripping piece of fluff). Nonetheless, there are exciting fanboy references for lovers of all-that-is-zombie. For instance, a "sensitive" (i.e. psychic) teenager, Flora, is playing a video game featuring Jill Valentine (nice Resident Evil reference). Moreover, it will seem thrilling to many lovers of the genre that the word "zombie" is actually used in the text. (As we know from Shaun of the Dead, you can't say the "zed-word"!)

What else can you look forward to?
-an exciting pairing of grandmother and granddaughter who seem well above-the-curve for understanding the phenomenon (you will enjoy their dynamic).
-lush, unexpected description. (ex. undead skin described as like an "orange that had been in the freezer" (53). Vivid!)
-a serious sense of urgency (I read the entire book in one sitting!)

Handling the Undead is a lovely piece of literature (and a phenomenal translation of the original work). I anticipate a Swedish adaptation of this novel and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys Gothic literature!
16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant Study of How Humans Cope in Extraordinary Circumstances April 18 2009
By Tez Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The author of the wonderfully bleak vampiric LET THE RIGHT ONE IN explores zombies in HANDLING THE UNDEAD.

In the Swedish summer, it's not just coincidence that citizens' heads are aching. The power surges...and then nothing. But life has changed for some of the dead: they have risen.

The sudden death of author/illustrator Eva is a shock, but even more startling is her reliving - she can even speak. But as her case is so different, Eva is being kept away from her comedian husband David and their son. It's a bad time to have a birthday, but rabbit Balthazar makes things better for Magnus - and us readers.

Grandmother Elvy and granddaughter Flora both have the Sense, but only Elvy receives a vision of the Holy Mother telling her to spread word that the End of Days is near.

When journalist Mahler hears of the reliving, he unearths grandson Elias from his grave. Mahler tries to train him to become more human, but Elias's mother Anna is at her wits' end.

The novel is character-driven, rather than plot-driven, and it results in a somewhat incoherent read. The characters's reactions and emotions are believable, the Heath is delightfully creepy, and I certainly wanted my own Balthazar. But I don't quite understand how the reliving happened, what set off the power surge, why it affected everyone, and why telepathic abilities suddenly abounded.

It's confusing, but also a brilliant study of how humans cope in extraordinary circumstances.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Forgettable and a bit flat. Jan. 7 2011
By Donald A. Prentiss - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading LET THE RIGHT ONE in, I became an instant fan of Lindqvist - what a great book. Then came Handling The Undead and maybe because I expected too much but I don't think so - I think it was just becasue this book is soooooo mediocre.

The character development is weak and none of the characters are very likable and the story is slow, weak and really not too much to it. It starts to pick up toward the very end but there's no pay off to the time it took to read this book. It didn't suck and it wasn't very good - it was just a time waster!

A terribly disappointing and weak follow up to Lindqvist's first great book. I'd say pass on this.

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