Book Review: A Man Called Ove

You might like this book if you like…

  • Carl from Up and you always wondered what his life would have been like if he didn’t fly away from his neighborhood
  • The Bell Jar. More specifically, the idea of attempting suicide, but failing at it. I always found that amusing.
  • a simple, lightly humorous writing style.
  • the theme of community in the age of modernity.
  • books that are mostly character studies.

The story

Ove (pronounced “oova”) hates everything. Well, he loved one thing–his wife, Sonja. But she’s dead, so now he definitely hates everything. He just wants to kill himself in peace and join her.

And then those meddling neighbors come in.

This story shows you two sides of Ove the grump. One is his present, as a man who cannot stand this world of technology, who picks fights with strangers because they do not fit his personal code of ethics, who just wants everything and everyone to operate as simply as a Saab. The other side is his past. You see how a child raised by a single father learned truths about trust and hard work, how he fell in love, and how he hardened with every loss.

I wish I liked this story more. It seems like a good one. Perhaps I didn’t care for it because the audiobook narrator was incredibly dry–so much so that I had to speed up the recording just so the book would be over sooner. But most likely it’s the writing style that’s a bit too simple, the storyline that’s a bit too cheesy (and this is coming from someone who loves cheesy Hallmark movies), and a plot that’s just a bit bland. I talked to a couple of friends who loved the story for its simplicity… but I kept thinking, Ok, I get it. Ove is grumpy. What else is there?

That isn’t to say that I was miserable the whole time I read it. I was propelled to keep going because I did end up caring for Ove and laughing at his curmudgeonly ways. I chuckled every time a suicide attempt was foiled. I “aww”-ed at the right places.

I’m checking out the movie next. I’ve heard a lot of people gushing about it. It’s included with Prime! Yesss!

But, still. It was lacking in something. I usually expect a “character study” piece like this to at least wrap me up in beautiful language, but no. The sentences were simple, the audiobook narrator reading in a staccato for all 10 hours of the book. The jokes were there, but hardly warranting more than a chuckle or a smirk. All in all, it was OK.

Perhaps it makes a better movie. That’s next on the list.

Maybe you’ll like it better. Here’s a link to get the book and another to watch the movie (it’s included with Prime). Let me know what you think!

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