Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist

I have been seeing some buzz around Twitter about Let the Right One In. One of the great things about Austin is that we get a lot of indie and foreign films in the movie theaters here. Last year, my husband Kevin went to a midnight showing of the Swedish film, Let the Right One In. He thought it was fantastic so I went out and bought him the book. It sat on the shelves for year until I told him he should read it when I saw my Twitter friends talking about the new American film. So, being the wonderful guy he is, he picked it up and read it. You know what is even better? He sat down and wrote a review of the book when I asked him to do a guest review for me! Here it is!

Book: Let the Right One In
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
480 pages
Kevin’s Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Let the Right One In is the story of Oskar, a 12-year-old boy, and Eli, the girl who might be something else entirely. Oskar is bullied at school and lashes out against the world in private. His life is drastically changed when he meets Eli, the new girl in his Apartment complex. Eli talks differently, seems oblivious to the cold of the Swedish winter, and doesn't come out during the day. The two form an unlikely friendship considering that Eli ought to see Oskar as food. Unfortunately for Eli, it's not easy for a vampire child to function in society on her own. When her adult companion is caught trying to gather blood for her, Eli must risk exposing herself as the townspeople become more and more suspicious of what might be in their midst, and Oskar might be the only one who can help.

Let the Right One In is a horror story unlike any other I've ever read. It's an atmospheric read that tends to be creepy rather than scary most of the time, but still managed to have certain scenes I found scarier than most anything I can remember. The Vampires are mostly traditional although they are some pretty cool twists to them, that I wouldn't dream of spoiling.

While many of the principle characters in Let the Right One In are children, it has very adult themes, focusing on love, sex, pedophilia, alcoholism, divorce, bullying and the pains of growing up. It's definitely not a happy book. All of the characters are flawed in some way, even the ones who'd generally be considered the protagonists. I think this provides an emotional depth that is uncommon in this genre.

I read this book after seeing the original Swedish movie and I think they complement each other very well. The movie is much more straightforward and cuts out a lot of the subplots (including the scariest part of the whole book!) but is excellent in its own right. I imagine that people who read the book before seeing the movie could be disappointed, but coming to them in the order I did made a lot of sense. I was even a little disappointed at first because for the first 100 pages or so the book seemed to be almost identical to the movie, but then it began to expand and flesh out the characters and circumstances a lot more.

I highly recommend the book and the movie to anyone who likes their horror to have a little depth to it. Definitely don't wait for the US remake which they'll surely screw up.
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