07 February 2017

Today's Read: As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka

Review: As Red As Blood by Salla SimukkaSuppose you were a teenager who was accepted into a prestigious school for the arts, living on your own away from home. You like to keep to yourself (for reasons you keep to yourself) but accidentally get caught up in dangerous business that a trio of snotty rich kids stumbled into. Do you help your fellow students or do you find a way to continue living under the radar? This is Lumikki Anersson's situation.

Glittering white lay all around. Over the old snow, a new, clean layer of soft flakes had fallen fifteen minutes earlier. Fifteen minutes earlier, everything had still been possible. The world had looked beautiful, the future flickering somewhere in the distance: brighter, freer, more peaceful. A future worth risking everything, worth going all-in, worth trying to make a break for it.
As Red As Blood by Salla Simukka (Crown Books for Young Readers, 2017, p. 5 [opening])

Quick Facts
  • Setting: Contemporary times;Tampere, Finland
  • Circumstances: Lumikki (whose name means Snow White), discovers €30,000, newly washed, in the high-school dark room. She doesn't touch the money, but three other students are now worried she'll rat them out. Instead of turning Elisa (daughter of a cop), Tuukka (son of the principal), and Kasper over to authorities, she helps them figure out how a backpack full of blood-soaked bills ended up in Elisa's backyard.
  • Genre: Scandinavian thriller / mystery
  • Themes: friendship; being different; drugs; corruption; bullying; affairs of the heart
  • Characters: Lumikki, an all-A student who's hoping to be a painter; Elisa, daughter of a police detective who appears to be a spoiled rich kid; Tuukka and Kasper, Elisa's sidekicks, who like drugs and enjoy their popularity at school; various bad guys involved in a Russian-Scandinavian drug cartel; the kids' parents
  • Why I read this: I said yes to this novel because the book was pitched a "Nordic noir for young adults," and that caught my attention. One of my goals this year is to read more books in translation, and As Red As Blood is translated from the original Finnish. Finally, I've enjoyed several Scandinavian crime series, so I figured this would be a good match for me.
  • General thoughts: Let me jump to chase: I found the book to be only okay. One of the problems was that Simukka was trying to do too much in this first installment of a trilogy starring Lumikki: we have flashbacks to Lumikki's young childhood, we have high school/teen issues, we have things happening in a very adult drug cartel, and we see life in Elisa's house. Some of these plot lines were better developed than others, but I never fully connected with any of them.
  • Lumikki and the central plot: (I'm purposely vague here so I don't spoil the story for you.) I didn't quite buy all of Lumikki's talents and her ability to infiltrate certain social events or to extract herself from trouble. Simukka gave Lumikki a well-rounded background, but still, I'm not sure the teen could have escaped from all those situations relatively unscathed. Lady luck was always on Lumikki's side.
  • Audiobook: I listened to the unabridged audiobook (Listening Library; 7 hr, 26 min) read by Ann Marie Lee. I can only assume that Lee pronounced the Finnish words and names correctly because her accent (as far as I could tell) was consistent. Her narration was expressive and sounded appropriately young, but her delivery was excessively earnest and somewhat choppy. I stuck with the audiobook, but my recommendation is to read As Red As Blood in print or at least to listen to a sample of the production before committing.
  • Extras: Note that Salla Simukka's novel won starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus,and Publishers Weekly and the School Library Journal liked it too. So perhaps it's not the novel but just me. The other books in the series are titled As White As Snow and As Black As Ebony. If I continue with Lumikki's story, I'll be turning to print.


Hillary 2/7/17, 7:00 AM  

I LOVE scadnivian crime fiction so I am going to give this one a try.

Unknown 2/7/17, 8:16 AM  

I do like the writing. And curious about what's occurring.

My TT from The Fixer

rhapsodyinbooks 2/7/17, 8:25 AM  

I find it irritating when protagonists are too talented and lucky for real life.

bermudaonion 2/7/17, 8:28 AM  

I hope it's as good as it sounds.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea 2/7/17, 8:50 AM  

This does sound pretty good. I'd read more.

sherry fundin 2/7/17, 8:55 AM  

Maybe the next book will be better?
sherry @ fundinmental My TT

Kathy Martin 2/7/17, 8:59 AM  

I like the sound of this one enough that I will be adding the print version to my wishlist. My YA teaser this week is from The Last of August by Brittany Cavallaro. Happy reading!

Kay 2/7/17, 9:08 AM  

Kind of sounds like it harks to the Snow White fairy tale or certainly the titles do. I don't think I know of any other Scandinavian noir in YA. So, that's appealing. One thing, a cop's daughter who is rich? That would put my spidey sense zinging right there. Cops are not rich - unless there is something wrong going on. I was raised by one. I know. LOL

P.S. We weren't rich. ;-)

Catherine @ Book Club Librarian 2/7/17, 10:28 AM  

This does sound good and I'm going to look for it. I like listening to books when there are hard-to-pronounce names because it takes all the guess work out!

Anonymous,  2/7/17, 11:43 AM  

That's got me curious. I'd definitely keep reading. Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. Here's my link for your readers. My excerpt is from Postcards from the Edge by Carrie Fisher: http://wp.me/p4DMf0-1uf

Laurel-Rain Snow 2/7/17, 11:50 AM  

I am intrigued by the Scandinavian setting...and I'm always up for a thriller. Thanks for sharing...and for visiting my blog.

Daryl 2/7/17, 11:54 AM  

sometimes its the translation ...

Sandra Nachlinger 2/7/17, 12:09 PM  

I don't believe I've ever read a book set in Finland. That alone makes me interested in this book. I'm glad you mentioned that the print version would be a better choice than the audiobook.
Thank you for visiting my blog. Your comments are appreciated.
Sandy @ Writing With a Texas Twang

Melissas Eclectic Bookshelf 2/7/17, 12:18 PM  

Sorry to hear that you felt that too much waas going on in this one...still sounds like a promising read.

Emma Litttlefield 2/7/17, 1:37 PM  

I really like scandi-fiction but haven't read any young adult. The idea for this appeals but I am not 100% convinced. One to ponder.

Margot 2/7/17, 3:04 PM  

This sounds like an interesting plot. I;d like to keep reading.

Cleopatra Loves Books 2/7/17, 4:45 PM  

This really sounds like an interesting premise to a story and I did like that opening - quite dramatic!

Kathy Reads Fiction 2/7/17, 4:53 PM  

I can't say I've read anything in this type of setting, but this book does look good. I think you've made a good choice. I hope it works out for you.

Anonymous,  2/7/17, 6:44 PM  

This sounds really, really good:). Are you enjoying it? My TT -

Eustacia Tan 2/8/17, 6:12 AM  

The blurb sounds really good, but from your review it seems like it could do with a paring down to make it one really strong standalone instead

ChaosIsAFriendOfMine 2/8/17, 11:16 PM  

Good to know about print vs. audio of this book. Sometimes the narrator makes or breaks it!

Literary Feline 2/10/17, 5:02 PM  

I am sorry this one wasn't better for you. If I do pick it up, I will be sure it is the print copy and not the audio.

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