HARDCOVER; 256 P. TAMMI, 2013 SOURCE: FROM THE LIBRARY
Seventeen-year-old Lumikki Andersson is hardly your average teenager. She lives by herself in the city of Tampere, Finland, and has a firm rule to mind nobody’s business but her own. But that rule is put to the test when she happens upon five hundred washed euro notes hanging up to dry in her school’s darkroom, and it is shattered once Lumikki realises who owns them.
Caught in an increasingly tangled web of deception, corruption and danger, Lumikki finds herself navigating the Tampere’s dark underbelly in the search to expose its shocking connection to the international drugs trade. Lumikki is smart, but is she smarter than a master criminal? Can she bring down the infamous ‘Polar Bear’ – or will she become another one of his victims?
Salla Simukka is a proficient Finnish YA author, and over the years I’ve read a few of her books. As of late, her Snow White trilogy has gained a lot of praise among Finnish book bloggers and its publishing rights have been sold to over 40 countries. As the third and final book was published in the spring, my interest was peaked and during my latest library visit, I checked out the first book in the trilogy.
Lumikki Andersson is not like everyone. To begin with, her name is Lumikki (Snow White in English). She is a 17-year-old Finnish-Swedish student in an elite high school for arts. Instead of falling into one of the social cliques in the school, she prefers to watch from the sides. Describing herself as the secret love child of Lisbeth Salander and Hercule Poirot, Lumikki examines her surroundings and tries not to get involved with other people. Her cold attitude is explained by her past as victim of bullying, and when she first encounters the blood soaked notes on the school grounds, all she wants to do is turn back and walk away.
Simukka’s writing is clever, insightful and she uses language to her advantage, placing small clues without giving it all away. The UK publishing house, Hot Key Books, has published a small chapter sample of the book here, but to be honest, I’m not completely satisfied with the translation. I think the style of the English text is not fluent and that the intensity of Simukka’s writing is missing. However, it is hard to judge a book based on few chapters, so I’d still give the English version a chance. The English translation is done by Owen Witesman. The title of the book refers to the Brother Grimms’ fairy tale of Snow White – lips, red as blood – and the hardcover edition that I read also had blood red coloured edges.
As Red As Blood is a YA crime/mystery novel with an interesting female protagonist that does not fall to the typical Mary Sue mold. Although I struggled to connect with the main character at first, the story hooked me soon enough and I could not put the book down. The fast-paced plot keeps the suspense tangible and if only I had the second book with me, I would have moved straight to it. One aspect that I enjoyed in the book was the setting of the book in my hometown, Tampere. In my eyes, this gave the story some credibility as I was able to picture the already familiar scenery. In addition, it’s fun to read about places that you know and how other people perceive them.
Overall As Red As Blood is a terrific YA book and though it does have its faults, it is very entertaining. I will definitely continue with the series and recommend that you check it out once the English translation is released on August 7th, 2014.