Book Club: Quicksand

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Author: Malin Persson Giolito
ISBN: 978-1-4711-6509-2
RRP: $29.99

The front cover claims that Quicksand is the Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year and whether that’s verifiable or an opinion it’s a pretty big claim.

It seems that not a month goes by without news of an attack at a school. There are shootings, mass shoortings, sieges, knife attacks and the list goes on. I don’t remember this being an issue when I was at school but in today’s society it is far too common.

This is a book with an intriguing premise that I look forward to reading, except that June flew past way too fast and I ran out of reading hours. Quicksand will now sit quietly on my shelf waiting for a quick break so I can pick it back up.

In the meantime, sit back and read a little about the book then check out what our readers thought in the comments below.

Quicksand is part courtroom thriller and part drama as eighteen year old Maja Norberg stands trial for her involvement in a mass shooting at a prep school in Stockholm’s wealthiest suburb.

The novel opens as the trial begins and Maja has already spent nine months behind bars awaiting trial.

Maja was a popular girl who excelled at school so how did she end up in prison awaiting trial for a school massacre? Are there two sides to Maja that shift quietly like quicksand… and which one do you believe?

Quicksand is a perceptive portrayal of a young woman which also examines a crumbling society. A story looking at class, money, emigration and the games we play when parents no longer understand the struggles of their children.

I am really looking forward to delving into the mind of an obviously troubled teen to understand how Maja has gone from what seems to be the model daughter to involved in a mass shooting that leaves her best friend and boyfriend dead.

Quicksand is published by Simon & Schuster and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster 20 of our Beauty and Lace club members will be reading Quicksand so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments.

17 thoughts on “Book Club: Quicksand

  1. School shootings have a particular horror, because they attack some of our most vulnerable, in a place where they should be safe. Although they’ve been happening for decades, the reporting of them has become more graphic and more detailed. Access to higher powered weapons has also increased the number of people murdered in individual shootings. And so many of us find ourselves full of horrified fascination – what could bring a person to break the social compact so thoroughly? Especially when a young person themselves is the shooter?

    “Quicksand” is the story of Maja, an 18 year old school student accused of just such a shooting. What did she do, or not do? Say or not say? Why? Is she a victim, or a culprit? This is an interior monologue, and Maja herself knows the answers, so doesn’t explicitly tell us what happened. For a very long time – most of the book – we don’t know the answer to that final, vital question.

    I loved this book. I found it powerful, and frightening, and a bit moving as well. Giolito has a wonderful understanding of shades of grey, and a delicate touch in dealing with motivations. It’s a slightly unusual take on a crime novel, one that I thought lifted it above the average.

    The characterisations are particularly strong. That also elevates the novel. Giolito seems more interested in the “why’s” of people’s actions that than what they actually did. I found this deeply absorbing.

    It’s worth noting too, that this was an excellent translation from the Swedish. Many people won’t even realise it’s a translation, it’s so smooth and articulate. As a side note, it also gives an interesting glimpse into the Swedish criminal justice system and how it differs from the American or Australian systems.

    This is a fantastic crime novel, truly outstanding and original. It also transcends the genre, so that many people who don’t often read crime, but are interested in character and motivation, should enjoy it.

  2. Quick Sand, a Swedish crime novel by Malin Persson Giolito tells the story of a classroom tragedy that leaves Maja, an 18 year old left accountable for the crime.

    The chapters switch from the court case proceedings to a little insight into some of the friendships and relationships closest to Maja. We learn about difference in socio upbringings and perceptions that young people have. Is one worse off than the other? How does this shape young and impressionable teenagers as they make sense of their world? Is it no wonder then that these sorts of events are on the rise!

    Throughout the novel you try and piece the story together. What happened and why? Very little is revealed until the end. I did find at times the book was hard to get into as I was keen to discover how it would end and what becomes of Maja.

    In today’s society we hear of these sorts of incidents more often than not. That is very concerning and confronting especially as a mother of three young children who will start at high school over the next few years. Giolito touches on subjects that we all should be mindful of.

    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review this novel. It was a nice distraction from the school holidays mayhem!

  3. Wow what a book! This book Quicksand, did at times leave me reeling. There are so many questions that arise throughout this very intense novel. I can see why this was the Best Swedish
    Crime Novel of the Year. Malin Persson Giolito explores the very real struggles of social classes and school antics in a way that leaves the reader intrigued.
    This novel is about Maja, an 18 year old that is part of a shooting in a school, that leaves her boyfriend and friends all dead. Why does she survive? What lead to this atrocity? Are the parents to blame? There are so many questions that need answers and we are left hanging, right to the end.
    This novel begs to be read, and it is really hard to put down once you start reading. I found it challenging, intriguing and insightful.
    You will not be disappointed if you read this novel.

  4. Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito is an absorbing book about a privileged teenager living in Sweden.
    Maja is 18 years old and we follow her through her prosecution and court case after being involved in a mass shooting at her High School.
    Her boyfriend is dead, shot by her.
    Her best friend is dead, shot by her.
    What brought this troubled girl to be involved with her boyfriend in this?
    We follow her story effortlessly switching backwards and forwards of the events that lead up to her trial and the trial.
    Will she be found guilty or innocent?
    This book has been translated into English very well but some names and places are a little hard to get your tongue around.
    Highly entertaining book in a frightenly real way with the amount of mass shooting that occur. It touches on subjects of underage drinking, drug use and fractured families.
    Quicksand is listed as the Best Swedish Crime Novel of the Year and I think it stands up to the hype.

  5. Thankyou again Beauty and lace, and Simon & Schuster for providing me with another great novel to read.

    Quicksand is listed as the best Swedish crome novel of the year. Did it stand up to the hype? In my eyes, honestly, no it didnt.

    I was quite excited to read this book. After reading a lot on the Columbine Massacre, and the psychological side of that crime- upbringing, bullying, music choice etc I was excited to read this, but unfortunately I felt let down.

    I personally felt that Quicksand dragged on for too long, and sometimes when I had put the book down for a while and went back to it I struggled to remember where it was up to as it did chop and change a bit.

    Maja played an interesting character indeed. Was she guilty? Was she really the person behind it? At the start I felt sorry for Maja, but as the book went on and she developed her relationship with Samir behind Sebastians back I no longer felt sorry for her. I felt sorry for Sebastian the whole novel. He was such a sad, misunderstood young man, and not even his girlfriend could understand or help him.

    Dont get me wrong, I didnt dislike this book! I read the whole thing in a matter of days, and towards the end I was looking forward to finding out what had happened. But for me it just was lacking and the story too long and dragged out. It lacked any excitement, any wonder at what would come next.

    I wouldnt recommend to go out and buy this book personally. But, if you have access to it give it a read and see what you think! You might find it differently to my review.

    Once again thankyou to beauty and lace and Simon & Schuster for my copy of this book.

  6. Thank you very much BeautyandLace and Simon & Schuster for this book reading chance.

    I was really looking forward to reading this book about a school shooting and I’ve never heard of a book in this theme which focussed on the shooter’s views.

    The main storyteller is Maja and she speaks to us in an easy to understand way. Somethings she says are funny, some are sad, and all the while, she gives her opinions to what is happening around her. She talks about her school, her relationships, sex, parents, money, drugs, life in prison, her defence team and it’s all pretty casual and easy to follow.

    I have a 2 sided opinion on this book. One is the way it’s written, which is good and very easy to read. It kept me captivated and I stayed up late to finish the book because it held the suspense that well!

    My second opinion is the storyline itself, which I found went to a great high climax, it built it up to it, and then it fizzed out for me. So towards the end, without giving it away, the story/end was flat and kept me wanting more! I felt the end was a slow end and a bit of a void. I had to go back and re-read the ending to make sure I didn’t miss it.

    There seems to be so many things left unanswered and it was disappointing after being thru so much with Maja, Sebastian, and Samir.
    I found the book didn’t give me more information that I wanted to know, as to why, why, why. But it seemed to only touch on it.
    I also personally found the reason or the suggestions towards the motivation for the shooting to not be enough, especially when the relative is killed. Maybe that’s the point, that anger, fear, drives someone to do such things, without there being a real “reason”. Maybe there are no reasons in life for such irreversible actions.

    The writing was easy to read and understand and there was humour and sadness, all kept me wanting to know more.

    I think this book would suit someone who reads with no expectations, then there are no disappointments. Or maybe read it and discover for yourself. It’s certainly a different read.
    Thank you once again.

  7. Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito
    A modern crime novel with a theme that is so familiar to us all. A school shooting. We are introduced to the main characters in the very first pages. Four students and a teacher dead, the sole survivor another shooter, obviously the shooter.
    As the story evolves the reader revisits the life of the murderer and her involvement with the victims. The reader learns of the victim’s (Maja) childhood connections to her best friend Amanda; Samir a dedicated overseas student; Dennis from Uganda who features as a drug dealer who is used by Sebastian, a rich but damaged .son of a rich man and their Teacher.
    After the shooting we find Maja in prison. Not much of a prison life is exposed to the reader. Maja’s thoughts in prison are mainly reflections of episodes in the lives of the students that lead to the massacre. she seems to accept that she will be found guilty .
    Her reactions to the court case as presented by the prosecutor do not fill her with dread at the thought of her fate.
    The reader shares her hopelessness as Sebastian’s mental health deteriorates and she cannot isolate herself from him. She blames herself for causing his state. As the court case proceeds the reader is drawn more to the feeling of certainty of a guilty verdict.
    Maja’s lawyer however, presents a glimmer of hope with new evidence and suddenly Maja discovers that Samin has not died but can his testimony be used by Sander to rebuff the prosecutors’ case?
    You will have to read to find out….

  8. I will start by saying Wow! What a book. I am not surprised it was the Swedish crime novel of the year.
    I couldn’t put it down because it just sucks you in and you need to know more and more.
    There are so many questions regarding why this privileged teen was involved in the shooting. School shootings are always a hard subject to read about but the author wrote it in such a way that had me fascinated by the psychology of it all.
    I loved how easy it was to read also and how easy it was to get sucked into.
    If you are looking for a great crime novel, I definitely recommend Quicksand.

  9. Wow!! This book was amazing!!

    At first I found it very hard to read, I’m not sure why I think it may have been the way the chapters were set up.

    The further I got into it though the more involved I was.

    Quicksand is about an 18 year old girl Maja who is being accused of her involvement in a mass murder school shooting. The story line jumps a little between court, her life before and prison.

    The more I read the more I found Maja relatable, obviously I’ve never shot anyone but the seemingly normal life she lived then the toxic relationship she felt trapped in started.

    It’s a book that keeps you guessing as you get through it, did she do it? Didn’t she?

  10. That first page! Wow. Possibly the best start to a novel I have ever read and one of the best books I have read this year. Malin Persson Giolito has such a natural style of writing. the characters are so realistic, I couldn’t put it down. It’s about a school shooting, but I found the different angle (from the perspective of a shooter) fascinating. I will be recommending this to friends and family who all love a dark crime story.

  11. Quicksand is apparently the Swedish Crime Novel of the year and it may be true.
    The story of Quicksand follows the court case of 18 year old Maja who is being trialled for her involvement in a mass shooting that her boyfriend and friends were killed in.
    I found it an interesting read as mass shootings always have me wondering how they happened in the first place. This book didn’t disappoint me although at times I felt the pace could have picked up a little better. You really get left hanging to the last minute too, which makes you get sucked into the story waiting to find out the ending.
    Overall a good option for fans of crime novels.

  12. Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito is a Swedish courtroom drama, narrated by Maja Norberg an 18 year old girl charged with the murder of her classmates, friend and boyfriend. Maja has enjoyed a privileged upbringing, in an upper-class area with her parents and younger sister. Who are pleased when she develops a relationship with Sebastian Fegerman, the son of Sweden’s richest man Claes Fegerman. Sebastian is the golden boy of the school, thanks to his father’s status. Maja is excited by the prospects this new relationship will bring, however as the relationship develops problems arise, adolescent emotions intensify accompanied by drugs, alcohol, sex and parties. But how does this all lead to a school shooting?
    The novel alternates between the court room and Maja’s flashbacks, revealing the events that led up to the fatal shooting. The beginning of the story was a little hard for me to connect to, however Giolito expresses Maja’s feelings well, she was a disjointed adolescent, angry and bitter at her situation and the lawyers around her. Once the court room scene was established the novel, dove into Maja’s relationship with Sebastian, her first true love. Sebastian was troubled from the beginning, a young man with too much money and no love or direction from his parents. Maja’s memories throughout the book bring up many other issues, including discrimination, drugs, racism and how money cannot replace a parent’s love. Maja becomes more comfortable in jail as it protects her from the media’s judgment, but she misses her family particularly her younger sister. Although slightly drawn out at times, Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito is an enjoyable court room novel, which clearly demonstrates money cannot buy happiness

  13. Quicksand was for me something totally different. It takes us through the court case with flashbacks as we try to understand what happened in a classroom where several people were shot and killed and now Maja is on trial and accused of murder. We learn about Maja and how she became involved with Sebastian who tends to only attend school when it suits him and as his Father is mega rich Sebastian lives the high life and when Maja becomes his girlfriend she gets to enjoy the perks of the rich as well. Maja also learns that just because you have money it does not mean your life is perfect and without heartache and it certainly doesnt mean you have love in your life.

    I really enjoyed reading this book. It take you on a journey but its not one that you should read if want something up lifting as its certainly not that but it does show how the choices we make in life have implications and sometimes not for the positive. For me this was a book that made me think. It shows how easily someones life can turn down the wrong track thats leading to disaster.

  14. Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito for me was just that – Quicksand. It was the hardest book I have read for a long time. Did I persevere hoping it would get better? Yes, I did. Somehow between the short on the back of the book and the first chapter I got lost…..very lost. If I had seen this book in the stores I would have bought it and the reason being that the back of the book and the first chapter, albeit only one page were HUGE drawcards BUT this is the slowest, less meaningful book I have read in a REALLY long time.
    The story is of six people, 5 of whom attend the same school and their teacher – Christer. Dennis, who appears to be the local go to for drugs; Samir, the smart one; Amanda, the bubbly cheerleader type; Sebastian, the rich one who has had to repeat his final year of schooling and Maja, Sebastian’s girlfriend. The book centres around Maja and her trial for the killing of her best friend Amanda and boyfriend Sebastian and Sebastian’s killing of two of those listed above. One survives along with Maja, but this is not revealed until nearly the end of the book.
    The relationship between Sebastian and his father, Claes appears to be volatile and there is not a lot of love lost between them. Sebastian starts dating Maja in the holidays leading up to the new school year – why? Who knows, as Sebastian has never appeared to interact with Maja or her friends previously. Sebastian does start to take drugs – provided by Dennis, has he previously taken drugs? I could not make out if this was new or if he had dabbled beforehand. Samir has a crush on Maja but has never acted anything but a friend towards her until jealousy sets in and as Sebastian’s drug habit and behaviour becomes worse he acts on his crush and seduces Maja, not to take her away from Sebastian but more like ‘take that’ leaving Maja a little bewildered.
    For me, after finishing this book there are a lot of unanswered questions. Malin Persson Giolito has written three previous books obviously giving her a massive fan base as Quicksand alone has sold in 24 countries. Would I read another of her novels? Probably not, or maybe I would and see if this is her style and I just do not enjoy that style.
    I am a MASSIVE fan of crime and thriller novels but somewhere this one totally lost me.

  15. 18-year-old Maja is on trial for murdering her teacher and classmates, including her best friend and her boyfriend 9 months earlier. Written through Maja’s perspective, we read about the trial, and the lead up to the event.

    This book was very hard to put down! The writing style really gripped me. It was easy to go from the past to the present and vice versa. I felt that I was seeing things through Maja’s eyes, rather than being an outside observer.

    There are a couple of times in the book where Maja directly addresses the reader – “And what about all of you? What do you think?” (p. 333). It was quite intriguing to come across that in the book – it made me take a mental step back and think about what I had read, and what I thought had happened and would happen. It’s not very often that I come across books that directly communicate to the reader.

    When the book was focused on one period of time, there was plenty of detail. It wasn’t just a few pages, and then changed. It allowed for a lot of detail in both the past and the present, and really allowed me to connect with the story.

    This book is the kind of book that I would only read once, and every time I see it around, it would immediately remind of me of what happened. I would recommend it only to people who are into the darker side of life – drinking, drugs, mental illness and murder.

  16. Wow.. definitely a book I would have never of chosen for myself, but I loved it!

    School shootings are becoming all to
    Familiar in the news of late, so reading this novel sure does rock the boat a little.

    It kept you in suspense the whole way through. Listening to the main character talk her way through the novel of the current events. The way she perceives the court hearing, how and why she thinks the shooting happened. Her emotions and the way she feels her parents now see her.

    Such an interesting read that wants you wanting more.

    Thanks again beauty and Lace for the chance to read this fantastic novel x

  17. Quicksand was one of my favourite reads of 2017!

    A Swedish Crime novel based on a young teen who is caught up in shocking school shooting.

    Maja comes comes from an affluent family, is a high achiever and popular at school. She is one of the few survivors of a classroom shooting and is fighting to come to terms with her role in the tragedy.

    The story is set in a courtroom and Maja is front and centre.

    This is a wonderfully written story and is definitely lives up to the hype as being one of Sweden’s best crime novels of the year!

    The author has made this an easy read which I’d recommend to anyone.

    Thank you Beauty and lace, and Simon & Schuster for providing me with another great novel to read and review!

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