Saturday, February 6, 2010

Girl on Book Action: Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Linqvist

Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
ISBN: 978-0-312-35529-6


It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last---revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door---a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night. . . .

Aside: This week at Girl on Book Action we're doing something a little bit different. I am reviewing Let The Right One In for you today, and on Tuesday, Wren will be providing a companion review of the movie adaptation. Look for us to do this again in the future, although it appears that we'll only ever be able to do it with vampire-related book / movie combinations. We hope you enjoy this venture! Now on to the review!

My Thoughts:

A lot of people have talked about how amazing this book is (at least quite a number have told me so in response to my studies in vampirology) and I’m not sure I agree with the hype. Although, I do have to say that the issues that I have with the book are mostly stylistic problems, which may also just be a result of translation. I guess ultimately I have problems enjoying a good story if it’s not in similarly good packaging of well-constructed sentences that don’t use jarring colloquialisms in the midst of flowing prose.

Something else that bugged me about the style of the novel was the constant shifts in point of view. I think that there were not too many shifts, but too many different points of views. For instance, one sub-section of a chapter was written from the point of view of a squirrel…yes, you read that right, a squirrel. I think that there were several valid points of view that added to the depth of the novel, but in some parts the shifts got a little ridiculous. Not every side-character needs to have his own section of the novel to show a different perspective, nor does every random forest creature. Actually, no forest creature should have its own section, unless you’re writing a novel about the lives of forest creatures.

You know, so far, it doesn’t sound like I enjoyed this book, even though ultimately I did.

Now that that’s over and done with – child vampires are creepy, so very, very creepy. I don’t even want to get into how creepy child vampires are to me. Although, I will say that it’s a rather lovely metaphor for the parasitic nature of children. The vampires and vampirism in the book are portrayed well and the monsters are really monsters, but they’re also painfully human. It’s been a while since someone has written vampires that are both gruesome and pretty scary as well as human. Hakkan is a terrifying character (much more so in the book than in the movie which I saw back in December) and his subplot was uncomfortable. Some scenes were written so well that I was genuinely scared, claustrophobic scenes in pitch-black rooms locked in there with a monster. Yeah, scary.

I also think it speaks to a certain realism in the portrayal of the characters that I found it hard to like most of them – they were all flawed and in a lot of ways ugly characters. No one was idealized or portrayed as heroic or angelic. In so many books the people are unreal with the way they act and interact, but in this book there was kindness, but there was also ugliness, ruthlessness, and hopelessness and if it isn’t meant as some sort of social commentary on the suburbs then it does a hell of a good job regardless of intention.

My last words on this book: read it and try to ignore the irritating stylistic elements. The story makes up for some of the jarring sentences. After you read it, go watch the movie – with subtitles.

And once again the picture is an alternate cover, or I should say, it is the cover from the UK edition.

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