tek's rating:

Let Me In, by John Ajvide Lindqvist (pub. 2004, Sweden; 2007, U.S.A.)
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Okay, well... so this is a Swedish book, the original title of which is "Let the Right One In," or at least that's the English translation of the Swedish title (which is based on an English song by Morrissey called "Let the Right One Slip In," so whatever). I should say that in 2008, there was a Swedish film based on the book, and in 2010 there was a U.S. remake, with the title Let Me In. (I hadn't seen either film when I read the book, but I did eventually see the American version, and hope to see the Swedish film someday.) I also want to mention that this seems like it could be part of a recent trend in U.S. remakes of Swedish books (and the films based on them), which also includes The Millennium Trilogy. Anyway, I bought this book on the night of October 22, 2010, and started reading in anticipation of Halloween. I knew it'd be well past the holiday before I finished it, of course... I'm a slow reader and I don't find enough time to do any reading. Well, I finally finished it on Christmas Eve, as I waited for a bus that I'd be taking up north for Christmas. And now here it is, New Year's Eve, I'm finally getting around to writing the review.

So anyway, it's set mostly in a suburb called Blackeberg, between October 21 and November 13, 1981. I'm not quite sure how much to say about the plot, actually. There are quite a few characters to keep track of, and various stuff going on. But the two main characters are a boy named Oskar, who's about 12 years old, and Eli, a girl about his age who recently moved into the apartment next to his. Um... so, I guess I should say Oskar gets bullied a lot by other kids at school, and also he collects like newspaper clippings about serial killers. And some of the stuff he fantasizes about can be pretty dark, and one can't help but wonder if a kid like that might grow up to become a serial killer, himself. Meanwhile, there happens to be a serial killer in the area, which is in the news a lot lately. Anyway, it's a little while before Oskar and Eli really meet and start to develop a friendship. But we also get to see the activities of the killer, whose name is Hakan. And... well, Oskar's parents are divorced, and he lives with his mother, though we do get to see him visit his father at one point. And we get to see various other characters, both kids and adults. There's a group of friends... including a man called Lacke, whose friend Jocke is murdered. Also he has a sort of girlfriend named Virginia, who at one point is attacked. And um...

Yeah, I really don't want to say too much. But eventually we learn that Eli is a vampire. Or... she claims not to be, though I think it's pretty clear that's what she is, whether she believes it or not. She definitely knows she's something... similar. Even if she chooses not to give it a name. And she has a connection to the serial killer. As well as... well, there's something else about... about Eli that I don't want to spoil. And I guess I don't really want to say anything about any of the many peripheral characters in the story. But anyway... it's all fairly interesting. We get a good sense of what people's lives are like, the way they think and all that. And I just think... there's lots of descriptive prose and metaphors and such, and just... lots of details which aren't strictly necessary, little things which in no way advance any aspect of the plot, but which help provide a sense of place, or of history, or just of... people. So much random, personal stuff that sort of helps remind the reader that anyone you encounter (including people so unimportant I wouldn't even refer to them as "characters") have their own lives and concerns, and all that. I don't know what to say, except that I found the writing style impressive, is all.

Still, as I said, the main characters are Oskar and Eli. Their awkward friendship is the most important part of the book. And... it's weird. And interesting. And different. This... just isn't your typical vampire story. It seems more grounded in reality. But there's lots of very disturbing stuff in the book, perhaps more so the purely human cruelty or ordinary relationships than the fantastic elements, though that can be pretty disturbing too, of course. And... I don't know what else to say. I feel like I've done a terrible job of reviewing the book. Sorry. It's just... possibly the most human vampire story I've ever read or seen....

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(Image taken from macmillan.com.)