Monday, October 31, 2011

Book review: The Autumn by Jan Henrik Nielsen

I'm not going to say that The Autumn is the Norwegian equivalent to The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, the story is much to different to be labeled that way, but I will say this its a great, dark YA dystopian filled with glimmers of hope.

The Frankfurt Book Fair ended recently and publishers from all around the world have been hard at work to sell the rights to some of their best novels to foreign publishers. According to NYT it seems like translation is foreign to American publishers, that is sad, really. There is so much great literature out there that deserves to be translated but the good thing was that the article inspired me to write this review :)

I know copies of one of my favorite YA dystopian reads from 2011, The Autumn by Jan Henrik Nielsen, went home in the suitcase of several foreign publishers. I've decided to translate my review to, hopefully, help the book on its way out in the big world.
Fride, soon to be six years old, cannot remember life outside of the isolation of their dark, moist bunker, her older sister Nanna, twelve years old, have vague memories of life outside. For five years now the sisters have lived in safety below ground with their father, they sought out a secure place when animals, nature and then humans started to wither away. The girls are bored with their daily routine, how can their father be so sure that it is still dangerous out there when they have no contact what so ever with the world above? The food supply is running short and then Nannas' and Frides' father gets sick. The family has no choice, the father has to send his two precious girls to the city in search of their old flat to find food and medicine. It is a highly dangerous journey for two young sisters, what lies beyond the next turn? Maybe their wish of life outside should have stayed merely a wish, they might wish for the boring, dark safety of their little bunker..
My thoughts:
Dystopian novels are very popular at the moment and I'm proud to say that we finally have an excellent Norwegian dystopian on our hands. I can honestly say that it exceeded my expectations and that I wanted more when the book was finished. I'm not sure weather or not this is a standalone but the ending left the doors open for a potential sequel.

The Autumn
is about a dark future that feels so, so close to our own, it feels like this could very well be happening tomorrow and that is quite an accomplishment of the author to create that feeling within me I would say. It is delightfully frightening and good at the same time.

We get to see a post apocalyptic world through the eyes of two young girls, which is part of why this story made such a big impact on me. Fride is so young and has no memories of the world as we know it, her descriptions of things she sees and her questions makes you believe in her character. I have no problem believing that a person who knew nothing of our life would ask and observe like Fride did.

The world is sad and grey but the girls, especially young and naive Fride, brings the reader some hope for the survival of our human race. There is no love triangle in this book, in fact no romance at all, but the love for family has a central role in this story. The relationship between the two sisters is described in a most vivid way, so much that it feels real and made me fall head over heels for these two characters.

 I only have one negative comment and that is that some of the dialog felt to short and simple but that might be conscious choice by the author due to the age of the youngest character.

So very different from the "girl in a dress"- covers. I LOVE it! If that doesn't say dystopian than nothing does. 

My rating of this book:
 - I want more books about Nanna and Fride.

Want to know more?
Published: August 2011
Publisher: Cappelen Damm

Pages: 272
Full disclosure: 
Review copy received from the Norwegian publisher for honest review on my Norwegian book blog.



  1. This sounds really good. Great review x

  2. Awesome review! This book sounds great! I loved The Hunger Games- so this book intrigues me. I will have to read it!



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