Sunday, April 24, 2011

Review: Let The Right One In, by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Mainstream literature. Am I right?

You see, I read speculative fiction. When I’m not reading speculative fiction I’m reading Young Adult. That’s it. I make no apologies, I read what I like and magic and teenagers just happens to be what I like. I think mostly it’s because I like crazy, larger than life, fantastic and awesome characters.

You know what kind of characters you tend to find in mainstream fiction? Realistic characters. People just like people you know. People you don’t doubt for even a second could really exist. It’s impressive. Like one of those painting that you almost can’t tell apart from a photo. Impressive. But how many crazy, larger than life, fantastic and awesome people do you actually know?

Exactly. So I tend to stick to my fantasy and my sci fi and my young adult. So imagine my surprise when I found myself reading a mainstream novel, quite by accident. I was tricked by promises of vampires and young adults, and instead found myself reading about Swedish alcoholics and dead beat Swedish dads. Plus, it’s set in the 80s. Everything is more depressing in the 80s.

Much of this book I spent not caring about how tight money was in 1980s Sweden, and not caring what happened to the tight knit group of depressing middle aged drinking buddies and definitely not caring about super religious and repressed rage having police officers. But! It wasn’t all too realistic depressingness, because the blurb on the back of the book wasn’t lying. Vampires and young adults! Also known as, what kept me reading.

I loved Eli and Oskar, and I loved every part of the book they were in. Like two damaged but hopeful helium balloons they lifted the whole book out of the realm of too-depressing-to-enjoy. Their relationship was sweet and delisghfully creepy. Also realistic. (It’s ok when young adults are realistic, because young adults are inherently optimistic. Even when Osker is being horrifically bullied there was still hope that things would get better).

I had thought, when I read that the book featured a 200 year old vampire in a 12 year old body that it would be a bit like Anne Rice’s bat shit crazy, old woman in a kids body, vampire Claudia. But not so. It’s not just physically that Eli does not age, emotionally there is an eternal air of “twelveness” about her. The mix of innocence and wisdom was fascinating.

I also liked the book leads you to subtly question the nature of violence. When and why is violence ok? It never comes right out and asks it, but by the end of the book I found that these were questions I was pondering.

I just wish there had of been a whole lot more Oskar and Eli and a whole lot less everyone else.

I bought this book

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