Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Handling the Undead

Go To

Hanteringen av odöda (English: Handling the Undead) is a 2005 horror novel by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindqvist.

It is about what happens when the dead start coming back. While it has some elements of a Zombie Apocalypse, the zombies aren't dangerous themselves, just confused, and the whole phenomenon only lasts for about a month.

Overall, the story focuses more on the living and how they handle encountering their dead loved ones again.

This novel provides examples of:

  • Blank Slate: The zombies. They have no will of their own, but react to the emotions of those around them.
  • Our Souls Are Different: They look like butterflies. Eventually. First, though, they look like caterpillars.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Anyone who died on a certain night or up to roughly two months before it Came Back Wrong. They aren't generally dangerous, at least not in the ways zombies usually are. They aren't infectious and don't eat people. Their physical and mental condition is more or less realistic for corpses, which is to say, horrible. The "healthiest" zombie is a woman who died minutes before the awakening event in a car accident; she's damaged from the accident but could pass for alive otherwise. Most other zombies are decayed and/or embalmed, might be missing parts, are falling apart and smell horrible. They enable telepathy in people around them somehow. People who spend time near zombies can hear the thoughts of each other. Zombies act as mirrors for thoughts and emotions, acting as people expect them to sometimes.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: Early on we see ethereal white grub-like things near zombies. It seems to be an alien force that's responsible for the zombies. Subverted. The white things aren't grub-like, they're caterpillar-like. Because they're the souls of the zombies, going back into them.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The dead come back to life, but they aren't after brains. They still frighten people and upend society, though. They even cause Telepathy in people around them and react to what people think of them. The societal breakdown that they caused is partially a result of people's expectations. And at the end of the novel, the zombies do indeed become dangerous and attack people and animals.