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"I Am Behind You" Book Review

Written by Mary Kay McBrayer

Published by St. Martin's Press

I Am Behind You John Ajvide Lindqvist Large

Written by John Ajvide Lindqvist
2018, 416 pages, Fiction
Released on October 16th, 2018

Review:

Evil kids are in my trifecta of shit I can’t handle, and Molly was the first character I frowned at when I started reading I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist. I’m not spoiling the book when I say that there’s something off about Molly. When four families in an RV park wake up one bright Swedish morning to find everything but their caravans, each other, and the horizon gone—just straight up vanished, y’all! Disappeared until they’re just on a grassy plain with the sky meeting the earth in every direction!—Molly, the small child of a model and a footballer, seems to know more than everyone else.

I’ve always been of the mind that kids are chaotic neutral, that all children are feral children until someone teaches them which alignment to take, but Molly, man. Emil, on the other hand, is an angel child, and he certainly comes from the protagonist family of a dorky box store manager dad and a reformed bad-girl mom who love each other deeply and without condition. Emil knows more than he knows that he knows, as children do. His parents suss out details as they are able, putting two and two together, so to speak, so that the reader can piece together what’s happening, too.

I thought I knew what I was getting into when I started I Am Behind You because I read and respect Let the Right One In as straight fucked, and also featuring a childlike evilish anti-hero(ine). Comparatively, though, I enjoy my first love much more. I felt like my curiosity was sated in Let the Right One In. I do not feel that way about I Am Behind You.

Granted, it could be one of those truths that dawn four days later in the grocery store when you’re wondering which paper towel is the better deal, but I don’t think that’s the case. I’m a reader who needs at least some semblance of closure, or if there is no resolution, I need a good reason as to why there is no resolution. This book left me feeling the way that the film adaptation of The Shining did: “Wait. What?” And then I immediately start revising in my head, making missed connections that the author did not make but should have.

That said, I did read this whole book, and I enjoyed the characters’ development throughout. Each of them is interesting, and the gradual reveals of their relationships among one another, their wants, their regrets, all keep the pages turning. I did not ever feel that the suspense is false. I like that I learned things as the characters did, and I like that I got to revolve in perspective, seeing pieces of the puzzle as they seem to fit into place. While I didn’t get the pay-off I wanted, the elements of horror are there. The untrustworthy narrators. The monsters. The gore. The horrific backstories. The children. The never-setting sun of Sweden’s summer. I am just left with many more questions than answers, and that leaves me unsatisfied.

Grades:

Overall: Threestars I Am Behind You John Ajvide Lindqvist Small
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I Am Behind You John Ajvide Lindqvist Small
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