Our story starts out simple enough, a new girl in town meets cute hometown guy and he falls head over heels instantly. The amount of discussion regarding their lust, but respectful lust, was a bit excessive for my tastes. I understand new relationships are exciting and full of positive emotions, I just feel like it was a bit of instalove and an extraordinary amount of discussion about the feel of each others skin and trying to control their lust for each other.
The story moves forward eventually and we get into the drama of the story. Friends and exes interfering, a mysterious past that was never discussed, you get the idea. I actually really loved Savannah as a character. She was feisty and determined and I feel like every small town has a Savannah in it. Faryn and Kai were an interesting match, but his overprotective nature was never really addressed.
All in all, not my favorite story I've read lately but certainly had some interesting characters and a very small town feel which I enjoyed. I wasn't so shocked by the twist at the end because there was some foreshadowing for it, but it was as good finish to the story.
TW: Mental health issues/suicide
After seeing the recent adaptation of Stephen King's It, I was inspired to delve into a big, fat horror novel (I already read It a few summers ago); plus, 'tis the season. John Ajvide Lindqvist has been referred to as Sweden's Stephen King, and I can see why. What I like most about King's writing is his characterization: characters feel like real people, no matter how fantastical, or evil. Little Star is my second Lindqvist novel, and he has a similar gift for creating engaging characters.
In some ways, though, I find his horror even more frightening than King's. He has a way of providing the details that are often skipped over in horror movies, such as the way the human body reacts to terror. Acts of violence are shockingly brutal (early in the novel a husband savagely breaks his wife's kneecap). He also appears to be interested in children as protagonists, especially girls. Little Star, like Let the Right One In, the other Lindqvist novel I read, features two children as the characters who drive the narrative. One (Theres) does not seem to be quite human (like the vampire in the latter novel), while the other (Theresa) is a human who is an outcast (like the boy who befriends the vampire). Each one's story is told separately at first, including their parents' points of view, until they meet--virtually and then in person. At this point we know the two will be frightening together.
Much of this novel details the angst and alienation of young girls, which can be painful to read if you're a woman who felt like an outsider at some point during your childhood. That alienation is weaponized; it's a freight train whose collision you can't stop but also can't look away from. It reminded me of Dietland, which I read a while ago and is not a horror novel, or even Kill the Boy Band and The Girls. I suppose I'm drawn to stories where patriarchal suppression erupts in violence.
I was left with a question or two, including Theres's origins (she's left to die as an infant in a forest before being discovered) and the red smoke she and the girls feed on. I also wanted a bit more of Theres's adoptive mother's perspective at the beginning.
Despite these questions, this novel shocked, disturbed, and awed me. I tore through it. AND I learned about several Swedish pop stars!