I missed out on reading The Room back when it first came out, despite how quirky and amusing it sounded, and while I still haven’t gotten my hands on a copy of Jonas Karlsson’s debut novel, I did manage to get an ARC of his second novel, The Invoice.
A short and sweet novel, I managed to read through it in one night, while sitting on the couch while my husband played Fallout 4. While I got through the book rather fast, it kind of felt lackluster and left me wanting more…some depth, some more details on the character and his life, and a bit more background into some parts of the story.
The Invoice starts off with our unnamed character (we never learn his name) receiving an invoice for a large sum of money (5,700,000 kronor). Confused as to why he owes this or what he has purchased to warrant such a high bill, he obsesses over what it could be for, and finally calls the number to find out. Apparently, in this alternate universe of The Invoice, you are charged for life experiences. The happier and more positive your life experiences, the higher your total amount due is going to be. Well, our character cannot understand why his is so high – he works part time at a music store, never traveled, isn’t married, doesn’t have any children, lacks friends except for one, his parents are deceased, etc. He doesn’t understand why everyone at the company thinks he has had such an amazing life.
So when he calls the number on the invoice, he talks to a woman named Maud. The main character and Maud end up spending countless hours on the phone talking about (at first) why the main character is in the boat he is in, what he can do about it, and why he owes so much. During later phone calls, they talk about random things, such as movies and music and whatnot, which does seem kind of pointless, but I guess this was done to show that the main character was developing an emotional connection to her or something…who knows.
Eventually the main character goes into the corporation to see what he can do about the amount he owes, and they recalculate his score to find out that he ends up owing double his original amount.
And the story pretty much just goes on like this until it’s over.
There isn’t a cliffhanger or anything, but overall the story kind of felt a little pointless and…well…boring, and not boring at the same time, if that makes any sense. The main character seemed to ramble a bit too much, taking away from the main point in the story (which I think was to remember how valuable all of your life is – the good and the bad), and I found that sort of irritating. I honestly had very few feelings about this book either way, and it definitely fell into the “meh” category for me. The premise for this novel sounded so promising and fun, too, so I’m bummed about that.
The Invoice is a nice little read with a good message, but I had a difficult time getting past all the surrounding fluff and annoyances to really take much more away from it.