Stand Still, Stay Silent: Book 1 by Minna Sundberg

Again, I’m somewhat mystified by why my husband thought this book would be my kind of thing.

I mean, it’s definitely entertaining! This first volume provides an intriguing set-up: a horrifying virus causes the Scandinavian countries to shut their borders, often violently, against all comers. Ninety years later, a ragtag team is sent out from the “safe zones” into a land filled with monsters (really horribly mutated creatures, some of which were possibly once human) in order to salvage books. Stand Still, Stay Silent is filled with quirky characters, gentle humor, terrific art and some genuine scares. That said, the full cast has yet to assemble by the end of the book, which is a weird editorial decision (tho I haven’t read the webcomic, so maybe it takes chapters and chapters more for the girl with the long braid to actually join the team: it’s just weird that she figures so prominently on the cover and in the promo art but only shows up as a silent figure in dream sequences in this volume.) Anyway, it’s an interesting post-apocalyptic story that has a lot of cool Scandinavian elements and themes.

What it doesn’t have is non-white people, and not even non-white people but non-ethnically-Scandinavian people. “But, Doreen,” I can hear some of you say. “It’s set in Scandinavia! That’s mostly white people!” Well, yeah, but it’s not a completely homogeneous region any more. There are plenty of ethnically Eastern European, Middle Eastern and African citizens there now, and have been for at least two generations. The idea that only ethnic Scandinavians survive the virus, in the future no less, is an erasure that bothers me. If it doesn’t bother you, then you’ll likely enjoy this book without reservations, but I’m uninterested in reading a post-apocalyptic fantasy world populated solely by white people, no matter how charming they are. Someone let me know if the rest of the webcomic deals with this issue, as otherwise I won’t be returning to this title: there are so many more interesting things to read out there right now that I don’t have time to spend on a book that has obliterated everything but Nordic whiteness in its characters.

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