Quicksand opens in a school classroom immediately after a shocking mass shooting has taken place, in the affluent Djursholm suburb of Stockholm.
Only one person remains unscathed; 18-year-old Maja, from whose perspective the entire story is told. “How did Maja — popular, privileged, and a top student — become a cold-blooded killer in the eyes of the public?” the blurb asks us. “What did Maja do? Or is it what she failed to do that brought her here?”
The book covers the court proceedings that follow, and the events that led to the tragedy, focusing on Maja's relationship with Sebastian, the son of Sweden's richest man, and addressing the themes of love, class divisions, and justice.
The Local's Book Club members described Quicksand as “creepily compelling”, “disturbing”, and “very gripping”.
In our Facebook group and at our Stockholm meetup, the question that divided our readers most was whether we could feel any sympathy for Maja. It's a book that calls on the reader to judge not only the protagonist's actions, but those of the people in her community and society more widely. Maja is the one on trial, but she's not the only one who played a role in the tragedy.
“I think that the book is something between a critique of situations that occur in Swedish society,” said reader Marc Basco, referring to the book's presentation of social inequality, racism, and gender roles. “After finishing the book and looking back at it, I appreciate it more and all these criticisms and remarks become a teaching.”
“I enjoyed it, if that’s the right word,” said Helen Farmbrough. “The second half was much better than the first.”
“Once the real story started it was enjoyable,” Helen Davies agreed.
Quicksand was the first of Persson Giolito's novels to be translated into English, by Rachel Willson-Broyles, and Netflix adapted the novel to become the streaming service's first Swedish-language original series, which premiered in April in 190 countries.
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