Published by Hogarth on July 12, 2016
Hilarious, profound, and achingly true-to-life, Jonas Karlsson’s novel explores the true nature of happiness through the eyes of hero you won’t soon forget
A passionate film buff, our hero’s life revolves around his part-time job at a video store, the company of a few precious friends, and a daily routine that more often than not concludes with pizza and movie in his treasured small space in Stockholm. When he receives an astronomical invoice from a random national bureaucratic agency, everything will tumble into madness as he calls the hotline night and day to find out why he is the recipient of the largest bill in the entire country.
What is the price of a cherished memory? How much would you pay for a beautiful summer day? How will our carefree idealist, who is content with so little and has no chance of paying it back, find a way out of this mess? All these questions pull you through The Invoice and prove once again that Jonas Karlsson is simply a master of entertaining, intelligent, and life-affirming work.
Have you ever settled on a book? You know, your buddy suggests this awesome book that you just HAVE to read, but when you read the jacket you’re like, “Dude, you’ve GOT to be kidding me?”
That’s about what happened when I chose The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson. I browsed through my choices, saw other books that seemed right up my alley, but ultimately settled on The Invoice entirely based upon the fact that it had the best reviews.
Apparently, it’s okay to “settle” sometimes…
I knew I was going to enjoy this book by the second page, loved it by page 50, and it took me all of two days to read it’s 204 pages. (That’s impressive when you’ve got a job, two dogs and a clingy teenager who’s been gone for a week demanding that you put down the book and watch Supernatural with her.)
You’re never told the narrator’s name (which I honestly didn’t realize until I started writing this post), but his life is thrown into a complete loop when he receives an invoice from a company he’s never heard of for an amount he could never pay. After all, he works part-time in a video shop where he apparently doesn’t bother to put out the open side until after lunch.
He later learns that the government (every government, really) has begun charging for happiness and that the mistake he assumed was made in his amount wasn’t in his favor! As he argues the case for how much of a loser he really is, his happiness score only goes up (along with the amount due).
While you gotta feel for the guy, it’s hard not to laugh at his continued misfortune.
While I loved the narrator, what really kept me from being able to tear myself away from the story was the way it constantly kept me asking what was going to happen next. Once I would get the answer to one question, I had about three more that needed answering (like what they can do to stop your experiences if they’re not going to kill you)!
This book forces you to ask the question, what would happen if you had to pay for your Experienced Happiness… and what if you were too happy to be able to pay?
What really got to me was that I can totally relate to the guy’s E.H. type. While I’ve definitely had my ups and downs (as we all have) I tend to be happy with relatively little. I work part-time, watch television when I can and if you give me a good book and some time to write I’m pretty much ecstatic.
It does have a few “naughty” words in it, but I’d recommend The Invoice for anyone age 15+. About the only negative I can possibly say about this novel is that I wish it had been longer. I was actually sad when it ended and I had to put it down (please see that this is deducted from my E.H. score).
Thanks so much to the Blogging for Books program for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for this review.