Carole Tyrrell's Reviews > Let Me In

Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
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's review
Mar 12, 12

Recommended to Carole by: saw the original Swedish film
Recommended for: some vampire fans
Read from March 05 to 11, 2012, read count: once

This is not a book for Twilight fans. There are no pallid, photogenic young people to be found here even though it features the V word. Yes, vampires. As Stephen King re-invigorated the genre with ‘Salem’s Lot’ this book could have the same effect. I saw the film first, the Swedish original, and was really impressed by the storyline and the two young actors. The film was gory and the book is even gorier and more visceral. These vampires really feed and feed well.

Set in 1980’s Sweden in an anonymous suburb it features 12 year old Oscar. He’s lonely, bullied at school with divorced parents and a nearby glue-sniffing teenager who hangs out in the basement as a sort of friend, he has fantasies of revenge and stabs trees. He lives with his mother and one night new neighbours arrive – a middle aged man, Hakan, and a young girl, Eli. They’re always quiet and the curtains in their apartment are drawn all the time.

Oscar meets Eli in the children’s playground one cold night as he plays with his fake Rubik’s cube. They begin to develop a friendship and he wonders why he never sees her during the day or why she doesn’t attend school. But in the manner of children he wonders and then forgets. Hakan is Eli’s protector and also her source of nourishmenr. He goes out into the woods one night to snare a young boy to drain his blood. The locals are scared as more killings occur.

Eli goes out alone and drains Jocke, one of a group of local drunks, and Hakan has to dispose of the body.
But someone has seen the murder and eventually tells his friends. Hakan’s luck runs out when he attempts to capture a boy at the local sports centre and is caught. He pours acid over himself and waits for Eli’s final visit as he lies, helpless, in hospital.

On Eli’s advice, Oscar has fought back against the school bullies after they go to far and really hurt him but now he has done serious damage against the ringleader. They won’t let this one go as they wait to exact a terrible revenge. An unsuccessful visit to his father makes Oscar feel even lonelier and alienated that ever. So when Eli finally lets Oscar into her world and he finds out who and what she really is, he willing to take Hakan’s role. Events begin to build to a frightening climax as the numbers of the undead begin to rise after inviting Eli in.

This is an extraordinary and disturbing book with paedophilic overtones, which may upset some readers. This is particularly evident in Hakan and Eli’s symbiotic relationship. I sensed his desperate need for Eli. Vampire literature and films have always had strong erotic undertones and ‘Let Me In’ is no exception. Even more unusually, Eli’s victims are not passive zombies as one of them, Virginia, makes the decision to kill herself rather than continue existing as one of the undead. It doesn’t glamorise vampirism and makes it far more disturbing, At the end you sense that it’s also a sort of love story as Oscar vanishes into a different life and also a rite of passage story as Eli shows him what he could be.

R-Patz – Pah! I really enjoyed the book, despite the disturbing elements I’ve mentioned earlier. A book about vampires that achieves classic status by having a different slant on the genre.
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03/10/2012 page 498

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