In 1983, when a teen boy is found dead, emptied of blood, Oskar, 12, hopes revenge has come at last against all the school bullies who harass him. More important is the new girl next door. Eli has never seen a Rubik’s cube, but solves it at once. They become friends and more. Something is wrong with her, and she only comes out at night.
When I first heard of Let Me In, I was watching the trailer for the American version of the movie – which, by the way, is way far from the novel’s story; the version which follows closely the book is the original one, entitled ‘Let the Right One In’. Now back to John Ajvide Lindqvist’s book, I have mixed feelings about it.
The novel begins slowly, introducing several characters through an interwoven narrative thread: it’s like watching different images flashing for a moment before your eyes, enough for your brain to understand who each new character is, and then a new one appears. At first I wondered why there were so many characters, thinking that it was useless to cram so many names in the beginning of the story (and a part of them were, indeed, useless), but most of the characters played an important role in the novel: by following them, their actions, and their fate, the reader gets to know more about Eli.
Now, Eli is a vampire. A child who is approximately twelve years old. Eli is a girl. Or not? At a certain point I was so confused, I didn’t know what to believe anymore. And I liked it; I think it’s a great thing for an author to keep you guessing, to set your brain on fire, maintaining your interest alive. Depending on the writer’s technique, you can either be fully engaged or bored to death. John Ajvide Lindqvist is part of the former group of writers – he definitely knows how to keep you racing through the pages.
Although the beginning of Let Me In was slow, the rest of the novel was fast-paced and intriguing. You want to learn more about the characters and what happens to them, so you race through the entire thing as fast as you possibly can. But this is where the magic stops. Despite being engaging, Lindqvist’s book is too grotesque for my taste. The sickest scene of them all is Hakan in the basement raping Eli. I won’t give you anymore details, but let’s just say that it was… well, sick. Imagine a man reduced to a cold, mutilated body, only one eye on his acid-burnt face, lying on top of a child, grunting in pleasure. Ugh… While I’m fully aware that this is a work of fiction, I still find it disturbing.
So now I find myself in a place where I can’t decide whether I liked the novel or not. While I enjoyed the fast-paced, gripping story (at least up to a certain point), I think the author went a bit too far in creating a horror/sick/call-it-as-you-may story. I give Let Me In only three compasses. Maybe some of you enjoy this kind of story progression and characters, so hey, try it out and see for yourselves. I’m still working on getting that basement scene out of my mind.