Book Review Wednesday: Let the Right One In (John Ajvide Lindqvist) 4 Stars

Posted: October 28, 2015 in Book Reviews
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Way better than twilight.

So, this is a story about two adolescent kids who meet each other and fall in love. And one of them is a vampire. No-one sparkles. If Edward was this type of vampire, twilight would be a lot cooler. There’d also be a lot more dead people.

Here’s the blurb:

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night….

The variety of vampire portrayals in books and media is fascinating.  On the one side you have the overly romanticized vampire of twilight. On the extreme other end of things, you have the kind of vampire from the book series ‘The Strain’ (which is also a TV show that I highly recommend). The Strain vampires have no redeeming features whatsoever. The infected turn into these gross things full of worms, and they shoot this strange stinger like something from their throat (usually at people they love), which drains them of blood. Plus, aside from this killing instinct, most have the brainpower of a particularly bright potato.

Eli (our vampire from this book) is somewhere between the two. They’re scary. Eli could break Edward like a twig. But they’re also capable of thoughts, of fear, and of love. Eli is even more interesting than the rest of their kind, because they were turned as a child, and their body and mind is still very much a child’s.

They like playing games, they don’t like hurting people, they make choices they haven’t thought through (very much like a child). You get to know Eli through Oskar’s eyes, and in many ways Eli is younger than Oskar, and in other ways much older. You come to fear them, and also love them, much as Oskar does.

Now some warnings. While this is a very raw, beautiful book, one of the pov characters is a pedophile and thus has some not beautiful thoughts. It’s an interesting contrast with the much more innocent povs of Oskar and Eli. We don’t see the pedophile guy do anything too icky (apart from once later in the book – but he gets just deserts for that).

If you’re a vampire fan, or a fan of raw feeling books, I think you’ll like this one. The characters are anything but two dimensional. Even the guy who’s a pedophile is really quite decent at times. He strangely enough has a very strong moral code. Oskar who is downright innocent in a lot of ways fantasizes about killing people. Eli who has the power to kill and does kill, gets no pleasure out of it, and seems to regard it as a sad fact of life.

It’s these complex characters in their desolate seeming setting that makes this book grip so strongly. Four stars. It lost a star because the pacing seemed a little off to me, but not disastrously so. I really enjoyed reading it. For more reviews on this book go to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/943402.Let_the_Right_One_In

P.S: There are two films based on this book. They’re pretty much the same except one was made in Sweden, and the other America. Both are awesome. Go watch.

 

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