by John Ajvide Lindqvist
This was intense. I saw the movie version a few years ago (subtitled). The first thing that struck me about the book was that it goes into far more detail (of course) about the characers, and there are lots of minor characters whose lives weave into the storyline, which the movie left out entirely. I liked that. The book also, aside from the bloodiness involved in a vampire story, shows the plain ugliness of human nature- especially those who are lonely, desperate, bored- much more than the movie did. Not far into it I was about to set it aside, not wanting to read about lonely, drunken men who are pedophiles or kids who beat each other up- but there were other parts of the story that interested me so I kept reading. There is a prominent thread in the story about bullying, for example. The main character, Oskar, is a lonely bitter kid with divorced parents and few friends. He gets picked on mercilessly at school and dreams of revenge, has a fascination with serial killers. After striking up a tentative friendship with the strange girl next door he learns how to stand up to the bullies. But they don\’t back down, they just come back at him harder…. meanwhile a series of mysterious murders are happening more and more frequently, and the whole neighborhood becomes tense and suspicious. By the time Oskar realizes what is going on he feels more inclined to protect his new friend than anything else. There\’s all kinds of subplots going on here- the teenager whose mother\’s new boyfriend is a policeman involved in searching for the murderer. The handful of drunken men who hang out together doing practically nothing- they get roped in when one of their gang disappears. I don\’t really know how to say more about this, but that the look at a lonely and dysfunctional society was more interesting to me than the vampire aspect of the story. In the end it got too brutal for my taste and I doubt I\’ll read this again. Definitely creepy.
This is a pretty famous book, and a lot of reviewers have done it more justice than I. See the links below for just a few.
Rating: 3/5 472 pages, 2004