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Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

November 11, 2010

 

Blurb

He is a twelve-year-old outsider; bullied at school, dreaming about his absentee father, bored with life on a dreary housing estate. One evening he meets a mysterious girl. As friendship blossoms between them, he discovers her dark secret – she is a 200-year-old vampire, forever frozen in childhood and condemned to live on a diet of fresh blood.

Review

Most people have probably heard of this book by now, what the American film adaptation Let Me In recently being released in cinemas across the globe, as well as the 2008 Swedish film Let The Right One In. I had already seen the Swedish film before I read the book and thought it was one of the best vampire films I had ever seen. I don’t usually like watching the film before reading the book and to be honest, I wish I hadn’t this time either! It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the book, but it did take away some of the thrill of what’s coming next? The film is extremely faithful to the book and I have heard that the same has been said about the American version also. I’m usually quite annoyed when American remakes are made of what was already a high quality foreign film. However, I do realise that reading subtitles are not to everyone’s taste, and it is just another way of making sure that those people do not miss out on an excellent story! I also hear that Lindqvist is fully behind the re-make which definitely encourages me to go and watch it when I have the chance.

So what about the book? I have noticed this past week that young people in the bookshop in which I work, who have loved Twilight are instantly interested in this the minute they see it’s about vampires and they know it’s become a film. However, it should be said that this is most definitely nothing like Twilight. This is vampire horror at it’s absolute finest. It is grim, gruesome, chilling and so horrific in parts that it even makes you feel a little bit sick! Lindqvist has managed to take the old vampire myths and make it into something entirely original. He has made it his own.

Oskar is a young, lonely, sad boy who gets bullied frequently at school, has very few friends, has a very over-protective mother and an absentee father. The scenes where he is being bullied are very hard to read. I found my eyes welling up just at the thought of what Oskar has to go through on a daily basis. That is until he meets Eli, the strange girl who appears suddenly on the housing estate in which he lives. She is like no one he has ever met before. The friendship that materialises between these two is full of innocence, understanding and loyalty. Eli may be a 200-year-old vampire (which Oskar doesn’t discover until half way through the book), but she is a child at heart. She longs to just be young and carefree again and Oskar reminds her exactly what it’s like. For Oskar, Eli is the rock he needs in his life – the one person who he can start afresh with, be himself, not be the wimpy child that gets beaten up, or the kid who wees himself every time he gets scared. Eli forces him to stand up for himself, to fight back and conquer his demons.

What I love about Lindvist’s story is the fact that the vampire is a child. Vampires are often seen as dark, grotesque creatures that care about nothing but blood. Eli has the ability in her, but she is too much like a child for anyone to see her for what she really is. Eli does not go out killing people for the fun of it, she does not see it as something sexual or pleasurable. This is where Hakan comes in – her pretend ‘father’, who is really a paedophile so besotted with her that he goes out and kills people for her and drains them of their blood for Eli to drink. For Eli, blood is purely survival. She gets no kick out of killing anyone, there is no thrill in it. It is just food. The scenes featuring Hakan and his paedophilic nature were often too much for me at times. I found them really uncomfortable to read and this is something that is not so obvious in the film but only hinted at. But I really liked the inclusion of him as a character and his devotion to Eli.

This novel doesn’t just focus on Eli and Oskar however, Eli’s presence in the neighbourhood sets off a whole chain of events and murders that affects everyone. There are a small group of drunk men that the story focuses on throughout whose lives are changed when one of the men is killed. Although I quite liked to see how Eli affected others and it didn’t just focus on her relationship with Oskar, I did find myself getting a bit bored at times with the constant swapping of scenes and characters, and found myself just wanting to get back to Oskar.

I have to commend Lindqvist on his ability to demolish all the vampire cliches that are over-used throughout the fiction we read today, and the way he has managed to create something unique. Let The Right One In is so much more than a vampire story – it is about two outsiders connecting, becoming friends, being loyal to one another and proving the rest of the world wrong.

I will soon be reading and reviewing Lindqvist’s latest novel Harbour so if you’re a fan keep an eye out for it!

My Rating:

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. Kate Daniel permalink
    November 12, 2010 23:25

    Hey Bookmonkey. I adored the film (original) and was tempted by the book, but am just concerned by how well it has been translated (my friend said “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” has some quite hilarious mistakes because it was so hastily translated) and how much of the meaning has been lost in translation. Were you aware of anything a bit funky about it while reading it?
    Thank you,
    Katemeister 🙂

    • November 13, 2010 08:34

      Katemeister! 🙂 Thanks for your comment! Well it’s a bit of a dry translation in places but didn’t notice anything ‘funky’ really. I have read all the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo books and didn’t notice anything so either I got too caught up in the story to notice or im just a bit rubbish at that kind of thing ! But definitely read the book if you love the film. It doesn’t differ too much but it’s a lot more uncomfortable and horrible. What are you reading these days?

  2. November 13, 2010 20:32

    I loved the film too. There’s deffinitely a style to some foreign writing that makes you think, ‘is this the translation or the author’s style?’ I suppose when the writing style is crisp, descriptive and slightly distanced from inside the character’s head, then it sounds more ‘translated’ than poetic and emotionally heavy text.
    I’m just thinking aloud here…

    • November 13, 2010 21:49

      That’s probably a good way of judging it! I’ve not really thought about it too much. Maybe you should read it as well and let me know! 🙂 Will you watch the American film version do you think?

  3. Kate Daniel permalink
    November 19, 2010 00:04

    I’m reading a lot of non-fiction and autobiography at the moment – the latest is George Orwell’s “Down and out in Paris and London” which is Orwell’s diary from the years he lived rough in Paris and London (he did this by choice). It is a really interesting book, and gives some insight into his inspiration for Animal Farm and 1984.
    Seems like you are getting through a book a week! Book Monkey indeed. Anything amazing you would recommend to read over the holiday period…?

    • November 19, 2010 18:00

      ahh fair do’s 🙂 sounds interesting! I never read non-fiction..I should probably do so at some point lol. But I just can’t resist escaping into fiction! Have you ever read The Book Thief by Markus Zusak? It’s my favourite book and it’s amazing! Look it up 🙂

  4. Kate Daniel permalink
    November 19, 2010 00:06

    And by that I mean no horror, because I’m a big scaredy cat! But nothing too fluffy either (with shoes and handbags on the cover…)

  5. Adam permalink
    January 14, 2011 00:31

    LTROI, both the film and the movie, moved me deeply. I enjoyed your review.

  6. mensrea93 permalink
    November 16, 2012 10:58

    Read the book and seen the Sweedish film and both were done fantastically. the book is of course so much better but that’s mostly do to the indepth look at Haken’s character. I was heartbroken however to find that my favourite chapter was not in the film (Haken and Tommy locked in the bassment together). I like how Lindvist puts you into a false sense of calmness and relaxation when reading before dishing out the gore before you’ve even had the chance to come to grips with whats just happened. It’s suttle suspence like that which really makes me appreicate him as a writer.

Trackbacks

  1. November Summary « Book Monkey
  2. Interview with Jo Fletcher « Book Monkey
  3. Little Star by John Ajvide Lindqvist « Book Monkey
  4. Once Upon A Bookshelf » Blog Archive » Let the Right One In

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