21 January 2011

Review: Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist book coverLet The Right One In is a Swedish vampire horror novel set in the '80s in suburban Stockholm. Oskar is 12 years old, lives with his Mother and is a victim of school yard bullying. He has a bladder control problem (with a unique management system) and loves to collect newspaper clippings about gruesome murders.

He meets Eli in the local playground, and learns she has just moved in next door with her Dad. Oskar is glad to have a friend, but Eli is different and things aren't what they seem. After many subtle hints for the reader, Eli reveals to Oskar she is a vampire. While Oskar is trying to deal with bullies, separated parents and his first love; Eli is trying to obtain the human blood she needs to survive, and bodies soon pile up.

This is an offbeat look at what happens when you introduce a vampire trapped in the body of a twelve year old girl into a drab suburban area, already brimming with their own problems.

Some reviews claim Lindqvist to be the Swedish equivalent to Stephen King, but I've got to say I disagree. Sure the novel contains supernatural themes and is a little gory in sections, I don't believe Lindqvist reaches the literary heights and levels of complexity of Stephen King.

I enjoyed Lindqvist's ability to create so many damaged and broken down characters, all living in such a dreary, bland and miserable suburb. I also admired his ability to conjure so many pungent smells that almost leapt from the page. I almost dry retched at the stench of cat's piss in Gosta's grotty apartment containing 22 cats.

The Vampire genre has been popular for quite a while now, and perhaps not surprisingly this novel has been adapted into a film. Entitled Let Me In it was released in 2010 (in English), and I'll probably check it out.

Ultimately, this was a disappointing read for me after reading so many rave reviews, but you be the judge.

My rating = ** 1/2

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