Monday, January 11, 2010

Let The Right One In: John Ajvide Lindqvist

Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist is a Swedish vampire story. For some reason, that alone captured my interest. This quiet little book was made into a Swedish movie that swept the Tribeca Film Festival and started to pop up in conversations. When I finally picked up my own copy of the book, I was captured by the sentiments of others before me, such as “Absolutely Chilling” (L.A. Banks), and “Sweden’s Stephen King…a classic tale of horror” (Tucson Citizen). With acclaim like that, I knew I was in for a treat!

I have to admit that Let The Right One In is slow to start. There’s a lot of exposition and character development. Which I appreciate, but I kept anticipating the action. The first half of the book is spent developing the characters of Oskar and Eli and fostering their friendship. Oskar is an outcast who is constantly teased by the schoolyard bullies. Eli is the strange new girl who moved in next door, who only comes out at night. While they are becoming friends, there is a “ritual murderer” on the loose, capturing children around twelve years old, and draining their blood. Before too long, Oskar finally figures out what the reader already knew—that the ritual murderer is linked to Eli. There are also an array of other characters (some that never appear in the movie), who pepper the plot with intricate crossovers and relations.

As an English Literature major, I couldn’t help but read the many themes that arise in this novel. I don’t know if Lindqvist was writing an allegory, but it isn’t hard to find one. There are thematic elements of family crisis, effects of ostracism and bullying, the good and bad in everyone. All of this murder and mayhem takes place in a small Stockholm suburb, where the streets and buildings were erected with the purpose of fostering a community and a sense of safety. And of course, all Eli wants is a home where she can stay put, and all Oskar wants is a friend.

There are some truly terrifying scenes described, including the scene in which Eli’s biggest fan, Hakan, returns to her as a disfigured monster and attempts to rape her. Also, when Eli shares with Oskar her memory of becoming vampire, it is gruesome and horrifying and absolutely terrifying that anyone could imagine such a thing. There are also sweet and poignant moments, shared by Eli and Oskar. Theirs is a truly unconditional love, which may well be the entire point to this story. After all, isn’t everyone in this world looking to be loved not for who they are, but in spite of who they are?


  1. Hi B! I've been wondering about you! I hope you are doing well!

  2. I am doing sluggishly! This post-holiday slump has me wanting to curl up with a book and blankie more than ever!

  3. CK--It was a pretty fantastic film. I had no idea Swedish film could be so visually stunning.