What are vampires? Are they classic, handsome bloodsuckers with black capes that can turn into bats, rats, and other rodents at will? Are they sparkling, immortal teenagers with fluffy, gelled hair who make appearances on MTV to appease the thousands of googley-eyed girls? Are they demon-looking creatures with crooked, razor-sharp teeth, point elf ears, and pearly black eyes?
In Let the Right One In, the novel by Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist, vampires are adorable yet surprisingly mysterious eight-year-old girls…or boys?…or…well, we don’t really know.
Let the Right One In is the story of Oskar, a lonely eight-year-old boy who gets picked on and enjoys stabbing trees, pretending they are little girls or the kids who make his life at school a living hell. All that changes when Eli, a mysterious, inappropriately clothed eight-year-old “girl” moves into his apartment complex. Oskar and Eli strike up an odd friendship full of awkward silences and one word responses. Out of their similarities: misplacement, uncertainty, and adolescence, grows a strong, powerful love that any two mature adults would be jealous of. But there is something different about Eli, something very different, creepily different, and she worries that Oskar will no longer like her when he finds out what that difference is.
The effective writing of Lindqvist is simple and natural. The rhythm of the narration is fluid enough for an easy read and he efficiently jumps from scene to scene, side-plot to side-plot.
That being said, there may be one too many side-plots for the average reader to follow. These side-plots, albeit interesting, could drag down the main plot for many readers. Too many times is the focus taken off of the two central characters, Eli and Oskar, and put on side characters who cannot fill the boots the author is trying to dress them with. These secondary characters are interesting, but do not give us the deep connection that Eli and Oskar provide, the deep connection we yearn for.
Through Eli and Oskar, readers can learn very valuable lessons. Love evolves from the strangest circumstances. Some love really is everlasting. Some affection simply cannot be explained. And standing up for yourself, displaying courage in the most dangerous of circumstances, can bring the real you out from the shell you have been living under.
For those who love the idea of vampires but are tired of the teenage, WB Network bloodsuckers that spawn from the mind of Stephanie Meyer, I would recommend Let the Right One In. For those who love the idea of real romance shrouded in brutal attacks, the roaming dead, and splattering blood, I strongly recommend Let the Right One In.