Monday, October 25, 2010

Read this one only in the daylight

[WARNING: this entry may contain possible spoilers for the novel and the film Let the Right One In.]

title: Låt den rätte komma in
author: John Ajvide Lindqvist. His debut novel.

But first, before the review, have a listen to the song that's extensively quoted throughout the book: "Let the Right One Slip In" by Morrissey. [Yes, THAT Morrissey.]

There is a bit of vampire lore that does not quite get remembered as often as the whole bloodsucking/infection/undead thing: vampires need to be invited to enter a place.

If you've read the Artemis Fowl books you know that this concept has also applied to fairies. Only fitting, in a way....

Anyway. Over the weekend I treated myself to a new book: a copy of Let the Right One In. My edition has the cover that also says "The inspiration behind Let Me In" - which is the 2010 American remake of the 2008 Swedish film.

I read the novel in three big gulps over the weekend and let me tell you, this is one of the best vampire novels out there. It really is. The whole atmosphere is cold and forbidding, the characters are all too human and weak [yes, that includes Eli], and the whole idea is of this strange and twisted love that forms between a boy and an androgynous bloodsucker.

[If you prefer to have your characters STAY the gender they're introduced as, you're SOL with Eli, as the pronouns referring to the character actually change from paragraph to paragraph.]

Oskar, the main character, comes off as someone really believable, and it's on him that the narrative of the book is centered, even though there are several POV characters and their stories intertwine throughout the pages. If you cannot stomach/believe/accept the terrible experiences he goes through, you'll have a hard time understanding the relationship he eventually forms with Eli, the character that the title refers to.

A famous still from the 2008 movie shows a bloody Eli. I think I now know which part of the book this comes from.

Have I mentioned that this novel is scary? And only partly because of Eli, believe it or not. One of the important things to note in this novel is that some of the human characters are portrayed as being even more monstrous than the obviously undead ones - and it's really one of the major sources of the horror. You've met them, or I hope you haven't: the bully, the pedophile, the druggie, the shut-in, the isolated, the serial killer groupie. Each character is beautifully and frighteningly described.

[Guess which one of those is the actual PROTAGONIST. Yes, even Oskar has major flaws.]


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