Dec 26, 2013

Let the Right One In

by John Ajvide Lindqvist

This  was intense. I saw the movie version a few years ago (subtitled). The first thing that struck me about the book was that it goes into far more detail (of course) about the characers, and there are lots of minor characters whose lives weave into the storyline, which the movie left out entirely. I liked that. The book also, aside from the bloodiness involved in a vampire story, shows the plain ugliness of human nature- especially those who are lonely, desperate, bored- much more than the movie did. Not far into it I was about to set it aside, not wanting to read about lonely, drunken men who are pedophiles or kids who beat each other up- but there were other parts of the story that interested me so I kept reading. There is a prominent thread in the story about bullying, for example. The main character, Oskar, is a lonely bitter kid with divorced parents and few friends. He gets picked on mercilessly at school and dreams of revenge, has a fascination with serial killers. After striking up a tentative friendship with the strange girl next door he learns how to stand up to the bullies. But they don't back down, they just come back at him harder.... meanwhile a series of mysterious murders are happening more and more frequently, and the whole neighborhood becomes tense and suspicious. By the time Oskar realizes what is going on he feels more inclined to protect his new friend than anything else. There's all kinds of subplots going on here- the teenager whose mother's new boyfriend is a policeman involved in searching for the murderer. The handful of drunken men who hang out together doing practically nothing- they get roped in when one of their gang disappears. I don't really know how to say more about this, but that the look at a lonely and dysfunctional society was more interesting to me than the vampire aspect of the story. In the end it got too brutal for my taste and I doubt I'll read this again. Definitely creepy.

This is a pretty famous book, and a lot of reviewers have done it more justice than I. See the links below for just a few.

Rating: 3/5    472 pages, 2004

more opinions:
You've GOTTA Read This!
Novel Reflections
Avid Reader
Vishy's Blog
Book Monkey Scribbles
The Ranting Dragon


James Chester said...

I agree that this book is about much more than vampires. I'd even argue that it's not really a vampire book. Not at heart.

I highly recommend the book and the original movie both; both are excellent, but I haven't seen the American version of the movie.

Jeane said...

I have not seen the American film version either, I wonder how different it is from the original? I saw it with subtitles, and I can't usually sit though a vampire movie but this was so good I wanted to read the book as well!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I thought this book was amazing, but had moments that even grossed ME out! I loved all the subplots, I never got bored, and was refreshed by the message of hope at the end.

Jeane said...

Yes, the subplots were very intersting! and I liked all the delving into matters of social isolation, estranged parents and children, etc. But for the distasteful characters and descriptions of things that made my skin crawl I don't want to read it again. Thus it got a 3 instead of a 4.

Jenny @ Reading the End said...

I started reading this a few years ago and stopped because I decided I was on a break from vampires for a while. Now that I'm (I guess?) back from being on a break from vampires, I admit I'm put off by the pedophilia thing, and the prospect of lots of gore. :/

Jeane said...

Well, it doesn't go into a terrible lot of detail, either with the creepy men or the bloody stuff. Enough to make you cringe, let you imagine the rest. Maybe you should give it a try? It's a really good read!