As Red as Blood isn't the typical YA suspense novel, and in spite of the protagonist's name (Lummika-which means Snow White in Finnish), it isn't a fairy tale re-telling, although there are plenty of references to Snow White and other fairy tales. This is the first in a trilogy, referred to as the Snow White Trilogy, Bk. 1 in some places and as Lummika Andersson, Bk. 1 in others.
From the book description: "In the midst of the freezing Arctic winter, seventeen-year-old Lumikki Andersson walks into her school’s dark room and finds a stash of wet, crimson-colored money. Thousands of Euros left to dry—splattered with someone’s blood."
I'm unsure about how to describe this novel because there are scenes that are a little confusing or not fully explained, and there is a back story that is frequently referred to, but kept deliberately vague. Part of this vagueness may be a result of the translation, but I'm not certain if this is the case or if it is simply the author's style.
Lummika is an interesting character; some readers have seen a Liz Salander connection and found her character imitative. Lummika, however, is much younger than Salander, her past is not nearly as dark, and her personality, while reserved and wary, does not approach the hostile and asocial elements of Salander's. Salander is often violent, has no feelings of guilt, and certainly has some emotional disorders. (Don't get me wrong; I love Salander's character and all of the books in Steig Larsson's trilogy-- I just don't think the comparison is apt.)
Lummika has learned to be cautious in her dealings with people. She prefers to be invisible, and although she is often critical of others, she is also aware that some of those people whose behavior she criticizes are wearing masks to help them fit in. Lummika feels no need to fit in with the crowd. She has her own personal goals and is determined to move through her life in a way that suits her personality. When she discovers the blood-spattered money in the school's dark room, she finds herself in a dilemma. She feels that the authorities (the principal? the police?) should know, but she does not want to be personally connected to the situation. She debates her options.
When she sees one of the school's popular boys leaving the dark room with the money, Lummika is curious and follows him. She doesn't like the boy, but wants to know more about the origin of the money before making a decision about what to do. What evolves, however, is that in spite of her desire to keep free of entanglements, Lummika ends up feeling pity for Elisa, one of the three teens who found the blood money.
Although the story has many flaws, whether as a result of the author or the translator, the novel holds promise. I liked Lummika's character. If the plot and back story had holes that bothered me, it still intrigued me enough to want to read the next installment.
Read in February. Blog post scheduled for March 4, 2015.
YA/Mystery. 2014. Print version: 274 pages.