[Explanation of Reading Journal Entries/Ratings]
John Ajvide Lindqvist’s debut novel, published in Sweden in 2004 and translated by Ebba Segerberg in 2007. I read a Thomas Dunne Books English film adaptation paperback edition (with the alternate title Let Me In).
Buy the Book.
2 out of 5 stars.
Times Read: 1
Seen the Movie: Yes. Both the 2008 Swedish adaptation (Let the Right One In) and the 2010 American adaptation (Let Me In). Both are excellent, 4-star films.
In late 1981, pre-teen outcast Oskar meets a strange girl while his small Swedish town is wracked with disappearances and murders.
After seeing both film versions, I went into this with too-high expectations. The movies do a wonderful job of cutting through the extraneous to find the core: Oskar and Eli and their friendship. They are the heart and soul of this thing and the most interesting dynamic.
Lindqvist gives far too many details about far too many characters and unlike Stephen King (who all reviews seem to compare him to), Lindqvist does a poor job distinguishing his characters from one another and making us care about them. For most of the book, I couldn’t keep track of the difference between Tommy and Tomas and Jonny and Jimmy. The group of friends at the Chinese restaurant are interchangeable. The payoff for these side characters also falls flat, especially Tommy. We don’t need so much buildup for such a small climax.
The style itself is lackluster and has a maddening habit of repeating the same scene multiple time from different perspectives, which slows the pace instead of adding anything. Also, the story occasionally moves to present tense, though I couldn’t figure out any plot-driven reason why.
There’s no consistency to the main characters; at the beginning, Oskar is presented as overweight, mentally imbalanced, and incontinent, but after meeting Eli, he just seems like a moody kid. Eli also seems to change whenever the plot requires.
Lindqvist does add some interesting elements to vampire mythology; explanations of why certain rules exist and how they work. He refreshingly keeps religion mostly out of it (at least the infected’s reaction to crosses/churches/holy water, etc).
Overall? I might be giving it a below-average rating, but I spent the better part of a weekend reading it, which says something for the entertainment value.