You want vampires, this has got a completely different take on a vampire.
“Let Me In” is John Ajvide Lindqvist’s first novel, and I am not sure if it is because it is so different than most vampire books being published today, or if it is because of continuing goodwill to the Swedes, or if it was truly a good book, but I found it fascinating. It really is not for everyone – not so much for the violence (which is par for the course in these books) so much as it is the peek into damaged psyches. It is to Lindqvist’s credit that he presents even the most revolting human beings (we’re looking at you, Håkan) as full-fledged characters and not just drooling, one-note lunatics. The vampire, Eli, is that rarity in fiction – a sympathetic vampire who is by no means “good.” Eli is responsible for the death of innocent people, yet, like Miriam Blaylock in “The Hunger,” is still sad because of her loneliness.
“Let Me In” has several story threads, all revolving around Eli’s move into a Swedish community and the ensuing havoc (and body count). But the main plot is about the friendship between the vampire, who is stuck in the body of a child, and a savagely bullied kid named Oskar. The friendship is genuinely touching in the most warped way possible. Oskar has been treated so poorly that he is tottering on the brink anyway, and the arrival of a vampire friend isn’t doing his burgeoning murderous thoughts any favors. But did I mention that their friendship is touching? Well it is, which just goes to show that a good writer can get away with almost anything.
So if you are in the mood for a cross between “The Hunger,” “Interview With The Vampire,” and even a little bit of “The Crying Game” thrown in for good measure, “Let Me In” comes recommended. I am anxious to read Lindqvist’s second book, which is reportedly about zombies.