Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist, Ebba Segerberg (Translator)
I don’t quite remember why I decided to read this book. I had watched both the Swedish movie and the US remake. I liked both and, if you know the movie, you know there’s some ambiguity surrounding the Eli/Abby character. Maybe I was interested in how Lindqvist drew the character in the novel versus his screen adaptation. But, I don’t really remember. Regardless of what my picking rational was, it was a good choice.
It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.
But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night….
The book Let the Right One In has a few more threads than the movie and therefore some of the plot takes a while to get going. The payoff is that we know the characters better and that makes some of the ending events all the more horrifying. We also get to know Eli more, including some history.
It’s always tough to judge writing when translation is involved. Occasionally, the way something was expressed felt a little awkward. More plot means more characters and sometimes keeping everyone straight was a challenge. On the other hand, as a writer, it was nice to read a story that had more than one thing going on.
I’m also appreciative of how the young characters are handled. My biggest beef with much of YA fiction is that, as an adult, it doesn’t mean much to me. The angst and heartbreaks of growing up seem to be handled pretty superficially. Non-“YA” fiction with young characters project these things in a way that still resonates with me as an adult. Off the top of my head, the other example of this that I can think of is Stephen King’s “The Body.” I’m fully open to the notion that not all YA is like this, but my opinion is reflective of my experience of it this far. As always, I’m feeling out the reasons that some things catch with me and some thing don’t.
Lindqvist wrote the screenplay for the original movie and I find the adaptation very good. All the dramatic beats remained intact. The story still told well, but in a more compact form. The US version of the film shorted the title to Let Me In, which is okay, I guess. For the book though, Let the Right One In fits so much better. All these characters, every single one, makes the choice of whom to let in.
Format: Trade Paperback
Bookmark: Calling Card, mine, not filled out
* My numbering is out of order because I wanted to get my impression of Every House Is Haunted out closer to its release date.
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