Joakim Zander – The Brother

How strong is the bond between brother and sister when their life is at stake?

Joakim Zander – The Brother

Yasmine and her brother Fadi have come to Sweden as young children. As the older sister, Yasmine always felt responsible for Fadi and when he got in a mess four years ago, she took over the blame and then left the country to make a new start in New York. She cut all connections to the old home, but now Fadi seems to be in real trouble and so she has to go back to the place where she has grown up. Some months before, Fadi joined a group of jihadists, he believed in the fight for Allah in Syria and went to war. After a major coincidence, he is now back in Sweden looking for revenge. At the same time, Klara, a young woman in London has taken over a really dangerous job without knowing it.

Joakim Zander’s thriller really has the finger on the pulse. Young, disillusioned immigrants who turn their back on Europe and believe in the holy war that groups such as IS are proclaiming and advertising for.  You can follow Fadi’s thoughts and motivation; it is easy to understand what makes him join a radical group and why he is disappointed by the life and future he sees for himself in Sweden. His experiences in Syria – albeit rather short – also can illustrate the way those kids are hit by reality and how their dreams vanish into thin air. In a state of disillusionment and hopelessness – what is there that keeps you going and worth staying alive?

What I liked especially about the novel was the high speed at which the different lines of action move on. The chapters are rather short which also accelerates the action. Jumping backwards and forwards in time is first not easy, but when you got to know the characters, it is not difficult to follow their action anymore. The plot as a whole seems quite authentic and believable to me, at least the story about Yasmine and Fadi is highly likely to be real. The second part about Klara did not really convince me, she only appears at a quite late stage and much of her job remained unclear which made it difficult to bond with her. I also did not really see the necessity of this story for the main plot. I would have preferred a focus in the Yasmine/Fadi story.

All in all, a thriller which combines tension with a very hot topic, political entanglements and business interests – while also showing how strong the bon between siblings can be.