Review Search Page

Sista resan Ewa Christina Johansson and Kristina Sjögren, Sista resan (The Last Journey)

Rabén & Sjögren,  2009.

Reviewed by Helena Forsås-Scott in SBR 2014:1

Review Section: Fiction for Young Adults

Reviewed with Svag is and Mörkt svek

Ewa Christina Johansson’s and Kristina Sjögren’s trilogy aimed at young  teenagers tackles some important and  difficult topics. Sista resan deals with  trafficking, as girls from Eastern Europe  are brought to Sweden to be exploited  in the sex industry, while Mörkt svek explores the effects of the objectification  of the sexualised female body, including  kidnapping, rape, and murder. Svag is,  about connections between dog-fighting  and organised crime, lacks some of the  feminist commitment of the other two  volumes, although issues of gender  remain prominent.

At the centre of all three novels is  Siri, aged sixteen in the first volume and  nineteen in the last. Talented and intrepid,  she is driven by a strong sense of justice  and responsibility for her fellow human  beings. Well aware of the need to plan  carefully for the rest of her education and  her career – and frequently reminded  to do so by her mother who has young  twins and is stuck in a humdrum job –  Siri has wide-ranging interests to provide  her with insights into many aspects of  contemporary Swedish society. 

In Sista resan she spends much of her  spare time at a small aerodrome and is  saving up to learn to fly. In Svag isshe has  instead used her savings on a motorbike,  and her new mobility is a prerequisite  for her continuing work as an amateur  detective in both this and the subsequent  volume. 

According to the publisher’s website,  the books are aimed at 12-15-year-olds  and in this respect they are not very  different from the most famous works  in Swedish literature about a young  amateur detective, Astrid Lindgren’s  three books about Kalle Blomkvist  (1946-1953). When the first of Lindgren’s  volumes was launched, the general public  in Sweden was still getting used to her  revolutionary Pippi Långstrump (Pippi  Longstocking), published the previous  year and introducing as the central  character a girl living on her own and  doing exactly as she pleases. In the Kalle  Blomkvist books, the character of Eva-Lotta, who plays with the boys and is as  resourceful and brave as any of them, was  another example of an atypical female  figure, at least at the time of publication.  The novels by Johansson and Sjögren  allude to Lindgren’s trilogy: the most  striking example probably being Siri’s  main contact in the local police force,  Superintendent Björk, who has the same  surname as the police constable in the  books about Eva-Lotta and her friends.  But Johansson’s and Sjögren’s Björk spends much of the second volume being  pregnant; as she advances in her career,  she becomes an increasingly important  role model for Siri.

Clara, Siri’s friend, also turns out  to be resourceful: initially seemingly  self-centred and preoccupied with her  appearance, she shows herself to be  fiercely loyal, bold and decisive in a crisis.  Boyfriends, too, of course become part of  the plots of these novels, and in common  with the other central characters they  are skilfully individualised and convincing.  The characters are integrated into a  slice of contemporary Sweden brought  to life by a wealth of precisely observed  details, which help underpin the urgency  of the plots. While Kalle Blomkvist and  his friends encountered criminal acts  essentially belonging to the world of  adults, the crimes explored by Johansson  and Sjögren are largely directed against  teenagers themselves, and especially  against teenage girls. Very well written  and with plots that twist and turn  unexpectedly, the books about Siri, her  family and friends provide both exciting  reading and critical perspectives on key  problems in society today.

Also by Ewa Christina Johansson and Kristina Sjögren

  • Mörkt svek (Dark Betrayal). Reviewed by Helena Forsås-Scott in SBR 2014:1.
  • Svag is (Thin Ice). Reviewed by Helena Forsås-Scott in SBR 2014:1.

Other reviews by Helena Forsås-Scott

Other reviews in SBR 2014:1

Back to Search Results

Current Issue: 2019:1&2

Issue 2019-12

Copyright © 2020 Swedish Book Review | Contact Details | Web Design by Intexta