Translator – Rachel Willson-Broyles
So, let’s talk about the elephant in the room … the last word in the title. It’s offensive. It’s awful. I hate it.
If I hadn’t told someone that yes, I was absolutely going to read a Jonas Jonasson book, my journey with this book would have ended as soon as I read that word. Because more than a year has passed since I made my bookish commitment, I moved on to reading the blurb and it intrigued me. It’s a shame, really, because I expect a lot of people won’t make it past the title.
If you do manage to put blinders on every time you come across that word, this is actually a fun read. The characters are quirky, there’s a road trip in an RV with a super fancy kitchen and there are wrongs to put right because the world is ending.
Everything felt right.
At which point nothing went as planned. It rarely does.
Johan, who the offensive word refers to, believes that’s what he is because his brother has called him that his entire life. Johan is not book smart but he’s a genius when it comes to combining ingredients in unique and apparently delectable way. I would very much like to sample his mango bread. Johan has also memorised a bunch of American movies.
Petra is convinced the sky is falling. Literally. And very soon. She has the calculations to prove it.
‘Who’s going to what now?’
‘The atmosphere. It will fall flat to the ground and the temperature will drop to 273.15 degrees below freezing. In a split second.’
‘Indoors as well?’
Besides being a doomsday prophet, Petra is also a very big fan of flowcharts.
At 75, retired manufacturess Agnes’ hair is more violet than it used to be. Her alter ego, ‘Travelling Eklund’, has seen much more of the world than she has, although that’s about to change.
This is a book with grappa decisions, an endangered bird and unfinished cheese business. A bunch of famous people have parts to play, including Obrama, which, even though it very much looks like it, is not a typo.
Our road trip takes us to multiple countries and the impact of this found family is felt worldwide, even as they paint themselves into so many corners you begin to wonder how they can ever get out of them.
Ultimately, this book encourages you to live your life while you have the chance because you never know when a prophet’s calculations are going to be correct.
‘Isn’t now the time to embrace the world? With what little time you have left.’
Although I still hate the title, I enjoyed spending time with this unlikely trio.
Content warnings include bullying and suicidal ideation.
Thank you so much to NetGalley and 4th Estate, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, for the opportunity to read this book.
Once Upon a Blurb
Sweden, late summer of 2011. Self-taught astrophysicist Petra has calculated that the atmosphere will collapse on the 21st of September that year, around 21.20 to be more precise, bringing about the end of times.
Armed with this terrible knowledge, Petra meets Johan and Agnes, a widow of 75 who has made bank living a double life on social media as a young influencer. Together, the trio race through Europe as they plan to make the most out of the time they have left, in more ways than one.
But of course, things rarely go to plan, even the end of the world…