Let The Right One In, by John Ajvide Lindqvist

LTROI-JAL

LTROI-JAL


Let The Right One In, by John Ajvide Lindqvist – I’m a huge fan of the Let The Right One In film (check out the trailer, or just watch the whole film). I even liked the American remake that they renamed simply Let Me In (although a comparison of its trailer with the original’s will give you a good idea of which one is better). So I knew that I had to read the book finally. Simple, right?

But, sadly, the book is not as good as either movie, although it makes a fascinating comparison about how someone can take source material and make decisions about how it should be committed to film (ironically, or appropriately, this mature individual was Lindqvist himself). What typically happens with the film-to-novel process is that a novel is generally filmed in sync with the book, perhaps leaving out a few superfluous or non-critical scenes. In some cases where the source material is skimpy (Where The Wild Things Are, Fantastic Mister Fox, The Polar Express, and any of the many film versions of kids books), a broad back story is added, which is tricky – it fails more often than it works. Others approaches are taken for films of unfilmable novels (Naked Lunch, Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas), where even more liberties are taken.

All of this is not so the case of Let The Right One In – while the film is heavy enough in the way it deals with bullying and vampirism, Lindqvist packs every other social issue under the sun into the book: pedophilia, drug use (inhalants), alcoholism, prostitution, transgenderism and bad parenting. Wow! Some of the characters are uninteresting, and the part with the lich is just taking the whole horror thing a bit too far – really! The dislike Oskar feels for his mother is never really explained, outside of a general brattiness, and the appeal of vampire Eli is also not really clear either; this makes him a less appealing kid than in the film. Okay, so Oskar and Eli are immature, and so are all of the other characters in the book, but does Lindqvist really have to have a squirrel narrate a page of the book (page 389 of my 513-page version of the book, or the page directly preceding the “Sunday 8 November evening/night” chapter)? This is one case where you’d be justified giving the book a miss – watch the Swedish film instead.

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