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Let the Right One InLet the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As it turns out, the movie was a very good adaptation of the book. Most of the elements are there, but the book is darker and delves a little into Eli's past and into the relationships between Eli and Oskar, among Oskar and his parents, among Oskar and the other children and teachers, among the alcoholics, and between Eli and Håkan. There are a number of scenes in the book that are not in the movie which explain some of what was going on a lot better, so the motivations of the characters aren't quite as murky or two-dimensional as they were on screen. And even with the scenes that are in the movie, a ton of subtext was omitted that might have made the movie less enchanting and more uncomfortable. I'm glad, because the movie led me to the book, and I thoroughly enjoyed both.

The book is well-written and an easy read. I never got thrown out of the story by awkward word choices or obvious reader manipulation. Don't get me wrong: there is manipulation, but it's well done. :) Both Lindqvist and the translator (Segerberg) are to be commended. I almost wish I read Swedish so I could compare the versions. :)

At the base, this is an unabashedly honest tale of a boy who is teased and abused for his differences, both perceived and real, and the relationships in his life that conspire to make it worse than it could be. Then he meets Eli and his relationship to her is the only positive relationship in his life. Is it any wonder, then, that he is drawn to her even after he discovers her true nature?

And let's get down to it: vampires. I like Lindqvist's take on vampires a lot. They aren't sexy. They aren't just humans with theatrical fangs. They are something else altogether, and to his credit, Lindqvist doesn't go into torturous, excruciating detail about it, so the reader is given just enough to be tantalized without being inundated with a lot of needless information that would only serve to distract from the story being told. And yet at the same time, he explains much of the lore that exists about vampires without beating the reader over the head by coming out and saying, "Look here! This explains other legendary vampires!" Even his vampires aren't entirely sure what they are.

The main thing that had me cheering is that in Lindqvist's book, vampires are PREDATORS, and we are not fooled by this at any point in the story. They need blood--human blood--to survive. He also neatly explains why humanity isn't teeming with vampires by this point, and it's an explanation that makes perfect sense within the world he has described.

This is a book that is blood-soaked, tear-stained, piss-stained, deals openly with sexuality without being needlessly graphic or tasteless, and shines a bright light directly in the face of dysfunctional relationships. So if you start reading this thinking it's just a silly love story of a boy and his vampire, you are going to be surprised. Pleasantly so, I think.

I highly recommend it, and hope others will enjoy it as much as I did.

View all my reviews

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(Deleted comment)
Dec. 13th, 2010 01:55 am (UTC)
I agree 100% with what you said. :) The movie eliminated all the right parts to make it flow nicely and still make sense given all that they cut.
Dec. 13th, 2010 02:29 am (UTC)
The original movie was awesome cinema. I dug it muchly. I've heard good reviews from people who aren't rubber stamps for the studios that the English-language version was pretty good as well. I haven't seen it yet as I'm not usually a fan of English translations of foreign awesomeness but was wondering if you've seen both. I also predict really big things for Chloe Moretz, even if the English translation is not good.
Dec. 13th, 2010 04:37 am (UTC)
I've not seen the American version. I saw the original in both Swedish with English subtitles (my preference) and English dubbed (some of the voice actors were...ah...not great).

After El Orfanato and this one, I'm becoming a fan of foreign films. :) I hope they don't ruin it too badly when then translate it. It IS Hollywood, after all. If something doesn't blow up or get screwed every 8 milliseconds, they get antsy.
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