Saturday, January 10, 2015

Review: The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

Why did I pick it up?

So I'd been eyeing up this book in my local bookstores for about five months before actually buying it. I didn't think I'd be interested it and I'd never heard about it. But, the cover was eye catching and the concept seemed kind of cool. I finally bought the book sometime last year but never read it until I needed something to read for my (regular) doctor's appointment. I figured: eh, why not?

The Review of The 100-Year-Old-Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson:
The concept is simple: Allan Karlsson, 100 years old, climbs out his window and vanishes. The back of the book says something like "It's like Forrest Gump, if Gump was an explosives specialist." And you know what? It is to a point. Allan doesn't necessarily bond with anyone he meets like Gump did but that's Allan's attitude in general: what may be, may be.

The book isn't meant to be serious in any sense of the word. It's meant to be a light, funny, silly read and my GOD does it deliver. Allan is sarcastic, suspiciously brilliant, laid back, and plays everything by ear. Even with his "don't talk to me about politics" attitude he's surprisingly involved in every war and even arrested at one point by Stalin for giving the recipe for the atom bomb to the US. Yeah, think about that sentence for a minute.

Allan meets all the big players in history: Truman, Churchill, Sung, Einstein, and other political generals, military sergeants and the like. He's linked to solving the atom bomb problem as well as starting/ending a few major events.

The funniest thing about the novel is every time you think Allan's about to be killed for being on the wrong side of the fence, someone he's helped from before happens to be in the room and saves his ass. The guy has 100 lives and despite never having a formal plan, he ends up living to the ripe old age of 100.

This story isn't told in the linear sense. It flips between the present day of Allan's disappearance and the past experiences of his life. Both are equally hilarious because Allan's same attitude is what gets him to accidently over-haul a crime syndicate and become a virtual millionaire in the last years of his life.

I would definitely recommend this book to everyone I know. It's funny, it's got a bit of history (likely inaccurate) thrown in for fun, and both the present and past stories revolving around Allan are amazing to watch unfold.

I literally had to stop reading so I could laugh out loud, especially during the later half of the book when the present story is coming to a close and the past is catching up with the present. Allan is a great character despite his advanced age and quite accidental expertise in a variety of subjects.

The end of Allan's life (up until he went into the nursing home) was a bit sad mainly because this normally calm, whatever happens, happens character kind of loses it a bit when his first real friend/animal he cared for was killed. But, everything ends up working for Allan in the end and the book closes on a sort of cliff hanger.

Would I read The 100-Year-Old Man who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared again?

Hell yes. I didn't want to stop reading it once I got into the story.

The Negatives?

With all of the above: you will notice a bunch of 1-star reviews on Amazon about this book. Most of them talk about Allan's problem in not connecting with anyone. I can understand this. You want a character to form meaningful relationships with people but Allan doesn't. Why? Because his parents never connected to him as a child and he lost both his parents early on in life. So, he doesn't connect to anyone else for fear of losing them. He doesn't know how to connect and was never taught. No, Allan is not a normal character and if you keep that in mind you might not be disappointed with this book.

Other people called it boring. Hi, I don't like history and found it to be the most droll class I ever had to take. There are history lessons in this book (possibly inaccurate of course) but I still enjoyed it. Was it boring? Not for me and again, I hated history class and that's basically what this book is.

I think people were taking this book too seriously. It's supposed to be a kind of parody and not serious in any sense of the word. It's not meant to have a message like Forrest Gump nor is it meant to be heart-warming (or heart-breaking). This book exists for pure comedic effect. Also, when an explosions specialist is running: try to keep up.

Final review: 5/5

Until next time: comments, questions, rants, and the like can be directed to the comments.

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