Karen Duff (addictedtobook) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Karen Duff

Book #1 The Girl who Saved the King of Sweden - Jonas Jonasson

An adventure featuring a non-existent twin who exists, and a fugitive atomic bomb that also doesn't exist--but weighs three megatons and is fairly difficult to hide. The protagonist is Nombeko, who at the start of the novel is fourteen and cleaning latrines in Soweto. It is the seventies, and apartheid is the social, political and economic reality that rules Nombeko’s life, and yet she makes the best of the situation, and ultimately saves the world. With Nombeko we travel from 1970's South Africa to 21st century Sweden.

Jonasson has created a captivating group of characters as well as an engaging plot that made this an entertaining and easy read. Nombeko is a self-taught mathematical genius who lives by her wits and cunning. Then there are the twins in Sweden, Holger One and Holger Two, only one of whom official exists. For reasons known only to himself when the twins are born their father decides only to register one of them. .The twins are born to a fanatical republican who is determined to eradicate the monarchy, a belief that Holger One learns to share. Of course our twins and Nombeko cross paths.

One of the best parts of the novel is when Nombeko is forced into indentured servitude. She is run over by the drunk and moronic engineer, Westhuizen, in Johannesburg after a long journey on foot from Soweto (she was hoping to make it to the National Library of Pretoria). The judge decided in favour of the engineer, a man who only graduated as an engineer due to nepotism and cheating. Obviously he is the perfect man to be in charge of South Africa’s nuclear weapons program. Due to his stupidity and constant drunkenness, and Nombeko’s mathematical brilliance she becomes his right hand man. They can get away with this because she is black and the cleaning woman and therefore ignored by all the politicians and the other engineers. Also featured in this part of the story are two Mossad agents, three Chinese sisters and various politicians.
Tags: africa, contemporary, humor

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