14 Feb 2011

Let The Right One In - John Ajvide Lindqvist - Book

This book is a vampire novel, I first picked it up after a short, intense phase of ploughing through the Twilight saga by Stephenie Meyer.  Need more vampire novels! was my main train of thought.

This particular vampire novel however, is in an entirely different league to Twilight.  The main character Oskar is an outcast and leads a very solitary life.  His mother is absent (minded) and also a little overbearing, and his father has a drinking problem.  He is bullied at school, and harbours a deep obsession for murder investigations and murder weapons.

Eli is a vampire who has just moved in next door with her guardian Hakan.  Eli and Hakan operate on a functional but very sick basis.  Eli needs blood to survive, Hakan is happy to help Eli live in return for his/her (you never really find out) company because he is a paedophile and Eli is trapped in what appears to be a child's body.

I found it a little difficult to stomach at times, especially the parts focusing on Hakan's personal life or told from Hakan's perspective, the part in which he visits the library rest room is particularly disturbing.  Nevertheless I appreciated the way the book approached each character with unwavering indifference and brutal clarity.

My two favourite characters were Virginia and Jocke because depsite their similar drinking problems and inability to really understand how they felt about each other, they seemed quite tender and loving as a couple. 

Now, I've heard a lot of debate from other people who have read this book about the relationship that develops between Oskar and Eli.  A friend of mine who has only seen the film insists that Eli loves Oskar just as much as he loves her/him.  But I disagree, I think Eli merely needs a replacement for old Hakan.  Oskar is the perfect candidate, but since he's lonely the best way to convince him to run away with Eli would of course be to act as his best friend and saviour etc.  I know that sounds cynical, but the book is cynical - paedophiles, alcoholics, arsonists... why not cruel, selfish vampires as well?

When Eli saves Oskar towards the end from the school bullies, Oskar's belief in Eli is confirmed and his decision made: Eli has succeeded in recruiting a new apprentice.  Job done.

Overall this is a fantastic book and I recommend you read it - be warned though, it is not for the faint hearted.  If you are of the faint hearted variety, I would suggest you try a bit of Stephenie Meyer instead ...

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Thank you very much for leaving a comment, I love reading them and will be sure to check out your blog too!