I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
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.... (source)
Well, I am no horror novel fan, but I actually think this one is pretty good. I don't know that I'd say that I enjoyed this book because it's really not very pleasant, but it's definitely riveting and well-written. And, of course, horrific.
What I loved best about Let the Right One In is that its purpose is not simply to scare the reader. Although parts of it are most definitely creepy and excessively violent, this book actually tackles some very serious issues and it is, in my opinion, fairly sophisticated literature. The character development that's present for Oskar, Eli, and Hakan is superb. All three of them are multifaceted and, especially in the cases of Oskar and Hakan, change a great deal over the course of the novel. I'm not really used to seeing this in horror novels and so that was a nice surprise.
This is also the most gut wrenching portrayal of bullying that I've ever seen. Oskar's classmates treat him absolutely horribly - and no adults ever do anything about it. His mom kind of knows that it's going on but she doesn't like to think about it so she turns a blind eye and Oskar hides as much as he can from her. His dad's not really in the picture, so no help there. The teachers apparently know - this is pretty clear from the ending, when they know that Oskar's to blame for a certain incident - but they do absolutely nothing to stop it. It's infuriating to read about, especially since this is probably the case for many bullying victims. Oskar's tormented daily - emotionally and physically - and in the beginning he's an absolutely pathetic child. Though he cowers in the face of his bullies, his experiences make him vengeful and as horrible as the bullying was, it was just as terrifying to watch Oskar fantasize about how he could possibly make his bullies regret what they'd done to him. Oskar's in the prime position to grow up and truly do some damage to society, not because he's inherently a bad kid but because he's so desperate for his pain to end and is willing to do whatever it takes to make that happen.
It was really refreshing to read a vampire story in which the reader could be sympathetic to the vampire, but the vampire was still very dangerous. Ever since Twilight, literature has been inundated by "vegetarian" vampires. It was really neat to read a story that showed that the vampire wasn't all bad, but certainly was scary and more than willing to hurt people in order to survive.
My main issue with this book is that it definitely didn't need to be as long as it was. I very strongly feel that the whole Virginia/bar crew storyline could have been cut from the plot entirely and the story would have been just as good, if not better. I also didn't feel like that part was properly wrapped up. I mean, we know what happened to Virginia, but what about Lacke and all the rest of them? I don't think that Lindqvist should have included this storyline, but since he did, he should have tied up all of the loose ends with it.
Overall, I think that this is my favorite horror novel that my book club has selected thus far. It held my attention the whole way through and even though there were parts that definitely had me cringing, I didn't feel like the book took anything too far like some of the other horror novels that we've read. I really felt like this one had some substance to it beyond scare factor and I'm so glad that it did. Here's to hoping that we read many more like this one!