Nicola's Reviews > Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
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Jan 11, 2010

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Popular twenty-first-century incarnations of vampires have become sanitized to an extreme. In Charlaine Harris's Southern Vampire Mysteries, vampires can subsist on synthetic blood and, of course, in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight, Edward Cullen is a beautiful, sparkly motif for abstinence. Even their previous vampire counterparts, though bloodthirsty, were also suave and good-looking. Occasionally tormented, they were more often distracted by nihilistic good times that readers could look upon with uneasy envy.

However, John Ajvide Lindqvist takes the notion of vampirism back to basics. In its most vivid moments, readers of Let the Right One In are forced to contemplate what it would be like to be infected by a virus that stops your breathing, makes you blister and burn in the sun and compels you to kill your most beloved in order to satisfy a craving for blood. Lindqvist’s vampires don’t casually dismiss the horror inherent in their plight, dress up in pretty clothes and go have fun. (In fact, Eli, the novel’s central vampire, neglects to bathe and change her clothes when they’re soiled. Why would she care what she looks and smells like?)

Lindqvist’s well-thought-out reinvention of vampires and his painstaking construction of a narrative destined for disaster mean that the resulting climax is truly horrific.

Did you sense a ‘but’ in that sentence? Unfortunately, the novel’s build-up is so painstaking as to be exhaustive. Lindqvist seems keen to show the story from every perspective – the boy who lives next door to the vampire and her ‘father’; both villains; the local burnouts caught in the figurative crossfire; the police; and so on and so on. It all comes together beautifully in the end, but there’s no denying that Lindqvist could have cut the novel in half and lost nothing from a storytelling point of view.

The result is a novel I find objectively admirable, but nonetheless flawed. And if you have an aversion to long, slow-moving books, give it a miss.
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07/07/2016 marked as: read

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