Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
translation from the Swedish to English by Ebba Segerberg
“Can I come in?”
Oskar whispered, “Ye-es…”
“Say that I can come in.”
“You can come in.”
Set in 1981 in a lower working-class town called Vällingsby, Let The Right One In centers on twelve-year-old Oskar who lives with his loving and over-protective mother. Away from school he listens to Kiss and collects articles about murders for his scrapbook. During school, he is mercilessly tormented by a group of bullies. The emotional and physical abuse he suffers at their hands is described in realistic and heartbreaking fashion. It is little wonder he jumps at the chance of befriending a solitary girl he meets in the park.
Trouble is, her arrival coincides with a string of recent murders.
Oskar quickly grows close to Eli, who encourages him to stand up to his bullies.
His friendship with her is set parallel to the relationship between the fifty something year-olds Lacke and Virginia. Lacke just wants to stay sober and save enough money to buy a little retirement cottage for the two of them.
Unfortunately, their paths cross with Eli and Oskar.
Lacke suspects the young girl of being responsible for murdering a friend of his though most people won’t listen to him. And Virginia comes into direct contact with the Eli…
One of the major pluses of this coming-of-age novel is the characters. There are no stereotypes here. No one-dimensionl cliches. They’re all incredibly real people- most of them are basically good folks who just want to live their lives the best they can.
The negative side of the novel, sadly- is again, the characters. Or, more specifically, that there are too many of them. While Lacke’s and Virginia’s relationship was a beautiful contrast to the one between Oskar and Eli, there was another subplot revolving another young boy which, while also well-written, seemed entirely unnecessary. And with less time spent on Oskar, I found my interest in his outcome waning by the end. The fact that the book was at least 100 pages longer than it should have been, didn’t help in that matter.
Regardless of those few negative aspects, the novel is a gripping and richly told story. Not quite horror in the truest sense of the word, it is more of a look into the lives of a group of people trying to survive in their gritty town. And of a young girl who needs their blood if she is to survive.