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Let the Right One In: A Novel Paperback – October 28, 2008
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“It's easy to compare Lindqvist to Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman.” ―Dagens Næringsliv (Norway)
“Sweden's Stephen King...a classic tale of horror.” ―Tucson Citizen
“A brilliant take on the vampire myth, and a roaring good story.” ―Kelley Armstrong, bestselling author of Haunted
“Absolutely chilling. This page-turner grabs you from the onset and just won't let go. Vampires at their Anne Ricean best!” ―L. A. Banks, author of Bite the Bullet and the Vampire Huntress series
About the Author
John Ajvide Lindqvist's debut novel, Let the Right One In, was an instant bestseller in Sweden and was named Best Novel in Translation 2005 in Norway. The Swedish film adaptation, directed by Tomas Alfredsson, has won top honors at film festivals all over the globe, including Best Narrative Feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. An American remake, Let Me In, written and directed by Cloverfield director Matt Reeves, was released in October 2010 to rave reviews.
Lindqvist grew up in Blackeberg, a suburb of Stockholm and the setting for Let the Right One In. Wanting to become something awful and fantastic, he first became a conjurer, and then was a stand-up comedian for twelve years. He has also written for Swedish television. He lives in Sweden.
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Oskar is a kid without friends. The only attention he gets from his schoolmates is when they are torturing him. They like to make him squeal like a pig, put his head in the toilet and do things that we call bullying, but this seems to be before the popular internet. High technology in this story is an original, vs. clone, Rubik’s cube.
When Oskar goes home, it is to a single parent home and mom is usually working. Oskar has a lot of time alone. He meets a neighbor of approximately the same age, but is told by the neighbor that there will be no friendship, that is just the way it is and no reason will be given. Oskar will eventually learn that the apparent girl who will not be his friend is not actually a girl. And “she” has been 12 years old for a few hundred years.
Eli lives next door to Oskar and meets him on the playground after Oskar had supper with his mom. He thinks she is very strange, talks in a funny manner, and does not bathe often. His new friend also is in a single parent family, but it is a father and child rather than Oskar’s situation.
After Oskar and Eli meet, the story moves quickly into disturbing areas. Eli’s father, Hakan, is not a father, but a supplier of blood to the never aging Eli. Hakan is mortal and has a sexual fixation on Eli. So we come to the disturbing question of whether it is incest when one is a mortal and one is a vampire. The reader’s mind may be relieved to find that Haken is actually only a pedophile in that he likes young boys. But does a vampire have gender?
The overall setting of the book is a struggle that many teenagers have in growing up. Oskar and Eli have problems, but so do their schoolmates. Tommy runs a burglary gang and lives with his mother (single parent family) but mom has a boyfriend, a cop, who threatens Tommy’s business. Johnny, Tomas, and Micke are three primary torturers of Oskar, but Oskar will get even to some extent by starting a fire in the school desks of Johnny and Tomas. This will lead to all kinds of consequences for several characters, but I won’t supply the spoilers.
Many characters in the book act and talk in ways that I think are unique to a country that is a cradle-to-grave welfare state. I have experienced this in a book titled “A Man Called Ove” and earlier in the Millenium trilogy by Stieg Larssen. I cannot adequately describe the style. This book is a good introduction to the style.
Twelve-year-old Oskar is a bit of a social outcast at school, frequently targeted by a group of violent bullies. But then he meets Eli, the strange and mysterious girl who just moved into the apartment next door, and the two of them become friends—united by their loneliness. Eli isn’t like other kids though. In fact, Oskar begins to suspect that she may be responsible for a series of gruesome murders that have taken place in his small town.
The relationship between Oskar and Eli is incredibly compelling, but there are a lot of sub-plots and supplemental characters here that take up space and detract from the more interesting parts. Still, this is among the better vampire stories out there: it’s chilling, gory and deeply disturbing. Definitely not for the feint of heart.
Come for the vampires, stay for the complex and affecting coming-of-age story.