Thursday 18 June 2009

Book Review: Let The Right One In

Let The Right One In
John Ajvide Lindqvist
Quercus Books

Let The Right One In is a strange novel. Equal parts The Catcher In The Rye and Carmilla*, it tells of a poor, bullied and rather eccentric teenager, Oskar, and his friendship with their new next-door neighbour, Eli. Along the way, their story crosses over with a tragic group of alcoholics and another young boy struggling to cope with his mother's new relationship.

The three main storylines are all riveting in and of themselves, but what is amazing is that they are all majorly independent of each other, only crossing paths occasionally. What happens when they do, however, is always significant. As you read, you will find yourself wondering how all the characters will end up having an effect of some kind upon the others - and what kind of impact these coincidental meetings will have.

Lindqvist is an amazing descriptive writer, and I would love to read more from him. Some of the scenes that he conjures up are truly memorable - many of them may stick in your head for the rest of you life. The twist of the bizarre and the cinematic that infuses his writing is (and, God, I hate using terms like this) captivating.

Gosta pushed past both of them into the living room and using Lacke's glass poured Virginia a drink. Lacke managed to get Virginia in, let go of her and placed himself in the doorway to the hall, like a sentry.
He licked a little blood away from his lower lip.
Virginia was standing in the middle of the room, tensed. Looked around as if she was looking for a way out. Her eyes stopped at the window.
"No, Ginja."
Lacke prepared to run over to her, to grab her again if she tried something stupid.

What is it with her? She looks like the whole room is full of ghosts.
He heard a sound like when you crack an egg into a hot pan.
Then another.
And another.
The room was filled with more and more hissing, spitting.
All of the cats in the room had stood up, their backs curled and tails bushed out; looking at Virginia. Even Miriam got clumsily to her feet, her belly dragging on the floor, pulling her ears back and baring her teeth.

Unfortunately, the pace does flag at times, sometimes to the point of stagnation. At times where the narrative would have done well to switch perspective, we're treated to a few pages of a character sitting around and waiting, staring, playing with a Rubik's Cube, etc.

Also, the ending is rather unsatisfying. Whilst reading it, I found it to be fast moving, tinted with sadness, yet also full of dramatic suspense. It was only after I had finished reading the novel and had thought about it for a while, that I felt it was a little "Hollwoodised". Not bad, but somewhat at odds with the rest of the novel.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating:
Violence: Lots of blood, splatter, gore and zombies

Sex/Nudity: Some mild sexual scenes. An erect penis. Several mild allusions to paedophilia.

Swearing: A realistic amount. Present, but not excessive.

Overall: A strong horror novel, with several very emotional moments. This book will still be being read and talked about years from now, but this doesn't mean that it's without its flaws. - 7/10

* Currently being made into a movie starring Jennifer Ellison and Rik Mayall. I wish I wish I wish I could be making this stuff up.

Like the sound of this book? It's available in the Emotionally Fourteen Store priced £2.99!

1 comment:

  1. A wonderful Swedish movie it is, too. One of the best horror movies in the last few years, IMO.