The Son – By Jo Nesbø, Discussion and Analysis


I was given this book from a friend at work who recommended it.

I make it a point that if someone I know recommends a book to me out of the blue to read it.  It is only because very few people I know read let alone recommend books.

I have to be honest, I probably would never have picked this book up otherwise.  Not that I don’t like modern fiction.  I have read my share of Lee and Hussler as guilty pleasures.  After reading the dust cover I thought I was pretty much in for more of the same.  A protagonist that kicks ass, suffers just enough to make you respect him, gets the girl(s) and  moves on to the next set of baddies in some other situation.  The idealized version of Nietzsche’s uberman.  No PTSD, no remorse, no real nightmares, NOT human.

So, to my surprise I find Jo playing with philosophy and psychology and not just that people do crazy things but why. 

You mean humans are not just one dimensional creatures who are either good or bad?

It is like the difference between James Bond and Jason Bourne.

Nesbø plays that line right down the middle of this book.  The line between what corrupts humans and what redeems them.

That humans are a product of their upbringing yet they can make their own choices. (He spends a whole page pontificating on if free will exists or not.  Haven’t seen that in a novel since I read War and Peace)

That bad things happen to good people but we all have the devil inside.

Existentialism vs. Meaning

“She shuddered as she watched the thin steel blade glide across the soft skin on his neck.  She watched as the hairs were cut and fell.  The thought announced itself spontaneously:  How little it took.  How little separated life from death.  Happiness from tragedy.  The meaningful from the meaningless.”

He flirts with meaning in religious beliefs and human relationships and even promotes the notion that sacrifice atones for sins.

I think Jo might have been trying to figure some of these questions out himself when he wrote this book.

Thanks for taking us along for the ride.


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