I told Karin I’d write a book report (just like in school!) after reading the novels she so kindly mailed to me this spring. Karin selected three titles that she felt were good examples of Swedish literature by how they capture and describe contemporary Swedish life, regardless of the circumstances in which the books’ characters find themselves. One title immediately jumped out as I ripped open the parcel. I have a fondness for bloodsuckers. Let The Right One In was not unknown to me since I’d heard about the novel and seen clips of the film adaptation on the Internet. I was extremely pleased to finally get a chance to read the book. As it so happens, Let The Right One In is featured during August’s book circle discussions. Thanks to the blog and Karin’s recommendations, I want to explore more of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s writing.
Love Finds a Way
I know how much people are enamored of Twilight’s Bella and Edward. Without question, theirs is the most popular vampire love story to hit bookshelves and the silver screen. Truth be told, I’m more of a Buffy and Spike girl. However, there is a new couple in vampiredom that has sunk sharp little teeth into my heart. They have hijacked my imagination and infiltrated my dreams. One is a killer. The other is a killer in the making. One a monster, the other a mama’s boy. They’re both 12 and each has been dealt horrific circumstances in life. The pair that I can’t get enough of is Oskar and Eli.
Not every reader is going to fall under the spell of these two. Oskar and Eli are the central characters in the novel Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. The story takes place in a suburb of Stockholm, Sweden in 1981. Oskar is a bullied schoolboy who lives with his mother in a bleak tenement inhabited by bleaker people. Although the reader is introduced to an array of characters in the telling of this tale, one is hard pressed to let any of them in. The people in Oskar’s world are chronic alcoholics, glue sniffing, electronics burgling teenagers, disinterested parents, cruel boys who torment Oskar for not fitting in, and men who do unconscionable, despicable things to children. Not a friend in sight in the stark frozen landscape of Oskar’s reality. That all changes one frigid evening when Oskar spies a shadow perched atop the jungle gym at his apartment’s playground.
Let The Right One In is a story of monsters human and supernatural. It is also a story of redemption and salvation. This is what I keep returning to when Oskar and Eli enter my thoughts. Eli is terrifying. There is no sparkling beauty in the demon Eli must become in order to survive. Oskar is a damaged soul and is capable of mayhem. As individuals, each child is frightening. Together, they create a strange and powerful bond that outshines any relationship described in the novel. Their friendship grows out of the fact that neither one belongs. Neither one is accepted for what they are. Neither can continue to exist as they have been. Each a puzzle only the other can solve. They were meant to be together in spite of the grotesque and unimaginable obstacles in their way. Love wins out in this horror story, albeit through violent and deadly means. When one befriends a vampire this is more often than not the nature of things. Alive or otherwise, it’s an overwhelming experience to find love staring back at you when you least expect it.