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Let the Right One In Paperback – 9 Oct 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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I've read a lot of Vampire stories recently, and have become a little tired with them to be honest. I do love my True Blood series but everything else seems to feel like it's jumping on the Vampire bandwagon. As more of a classic horror novel, I decided to give this a go and was very glad I did.
The story follows 12-year-old Oskar, targeted by the class bullies and wishing he could disappear. Near to where he lives, the police find dead bodies, which they believe to be caused by a `Ritual Killer'. At the same time, he meets and befriends a neighbourhood girl called Eli and soon realises that maybe his new found friend and the murders are linked.
I really loved the character of Oskar - although only 12 and bullied by his classmates, he is extremely intellegent and has a wonderful imagination. The writer has created scenes where Oskar believes he's someone else, a hero, slaying bullies and bad guys. John Ajvide Lindqvist has captured the imagination of this 12 year old outcast perfectly. Oskar, with very few people in his life and only books for company until he meets Eli, creates this heroic alter-ego to get him through his days.
The story itself felt a little long but it was well paced and the way the writer went from character to character really pulled you into this Swedish estate. There are so many characters - from Oskar and Eli, to Eli's `Dad' Håkan, Oskar's teenage neighbour Tommy, the bullies, and a group of alcholics who not only bare witness to the murders, but become victims also. The whole group of characters seem seperate and unrelated at the beginning, but soon their paths are brought together, and only the reader will understand their significance from their backstory.
The novel had a very Stephen King-eqsue quality to it. It mixes a `coming of age' story of friendship and love, with the horror of the supernatural. Particularly in the last scene of the novel at the swimming pool, I had flashbacks of Stephen King's Carrie, along with many other King classics throughout the book. Being a fan of Stephen King, of course this is only a good thing!
Overall, it's a really enjoyable novel. Although long, it's packs into the story so many characters who are directly and indirectly affected by Eli and the murders, and they are all brought together very well as the story concludes. Lindqvist has done a marvellous job of creating potentially horrific characters that you feel attached to, and combining a sweet story of friendship with that of a supernatural thriller.
To be fair this is a chilling dark story, which is original and in the best tradition of vampire tails, pushes at the edge of our cultural acceptance of what we will allow in a story. Here is a tale with all kinds of dark issues and social taboos laid bare. Thus it is probably perfect for lovers of the genre, but those who occasionally dip into it will find it less compelling - and may leave the reader feeling sullied or disturbed. That is probably in favour of the writing, but as a reader your mileage may vary
The setting is extremely dark, but the story itself lacks some tension, and characters are not compelling. Oskar is a 12 year old boy, and Eli appears to be a girl of about his age, but clearly is something much darker and stranger.
Some of the issues with tension might be the translation - it may read better in Swedish, but whilst I read through to the end with no difficulty, I did not miss the book once I had finished it. The style was consistently no-nonsense but I just felt that the best drawn characters in the book were probably also teh most mixed up and disturbed ones.
the story also did not seem to me to be wholly original. Some aspects of the plot seemed to be borrowed from Vampire Junction, and even though I hated Vampire Junction, I am forced to the conclusion that it was better done in Somtow's book. To avoid the spoilers I won't mention the specific issues, but readers of both works would spot it easily enough.
I'm so glad I did! At first I was a litle worried that I might have made a mistake, and would find the whole thing silly and childish but I positively devoured the book, which works so well on so many levels. There's the vampire of course, who provides the basis of the whole tale, plus some very gruesome scenes which I had difficulty in getting out of my head for some time; there are extremely well-written and exciting sequences where I just couldn't put the book down as I just HAD to get to the end of the chapter to find out what happened and, rather surprisingly, there's a poignant love story between two seemingly unlikely, rather mature, characters interweaved with the plot. What to me seemed to be the main thread was the story of Oskar, a boy of 12, bullied by his peers and his new-found friendship with the little girl next door (Eli), who helps him face up to his tormentors and is absolutely not what she seems to be, in more ways than one!
The translation is a good one and, although some phraseology is a little Americanised, English spelling is used throughout. Obviously, money is expressed in kronor and place-names, streets etc, have Swedish names, so none of the Scandinavian feel has, thank goodness, been lost.
The author skilfully builds up suspense and keeps the story galloping along, despite the fact that there are quite a lot of characters (I don't think there are too many, despite what other reviewers have said) and there are several stories being told at once, without causing confusion.
What is it about all these Scandinavian authors I've discovered all of a sudden? Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson and now John Ajvide Lindqvist! Brilliant! It's no wonder they're so popular!
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