Friday, June 12, 2015

Ms. Hen reviews LET THE RIGHT ONE IN and contemplates her inner vampire

John Ajvide Lindqvidst

This novel was on Ms. Hen’s Kindle for a long time, but she finally got around to reading it because she was tired of reading literary novels about problems people have in families. She thought a vampire novel would be a good remedy for thinking about the real issues of the world. She had seen the film many years ago, and she enjoyed it.

The story centers on a boy, Oskar, who befriends a young girl, Eli, in his apartment building, unbeknownst to him in the beginning, is a vampire. He is getting bullied at school and he needs to escape, so he goes to the playground and talks to the girl, who turns out to be a boy that is over one hundred years old. Eli can jump from great heights and she solves his Rubik’s Cube quickly, and he is not suspicious of Eli in the beginning, and it takes a while for him to figure out what his neighbor truly is.

Other characters surround the story: the group of alcoholics who eat at the Chinese restaurant, the other boys in Oskar’s class, his neighbor Tommy and his mother, and Oskar’s father. Eli kills one of the people from the restaurant and the victim’s friends are suspicious of the death.

A lot of death surrounds the story, but a lot of life fills it as well. The characters are sympathetic and realistic. This isn’t like any other vampire novel that Ms. Hen has read. She hasn’t read many, she has avoided the TWILIGHT saga, but she has read Anne Rice and Bram Stoker's DRACULA. This is a literary vampire novel, one that she was excited to read. She couldn’t stop reading it. It made her wonder about vampires and why there are so many books and films about them and why the public loves them so much.

Ms. Hen wondered if vampires were part of what Carl Jung called the collective subconscious, stories that are part of every culture because they are part of who we are as human. She did some research and found this to be true.

Carl Jung discovered that every culture on earth had a type of vampire, or blood drinking creature in its stories and myths. He thought that vampires are part of who we are, that everyone has a dark side, a shadow self, one that follows us and lives inside of us and is able to come out when necessary.

Vampire stories resonate with us because they speak to who we are as humans, the dark side of ourselves that we hide most of the time, or try to hide. Sometimes the vampire inside of us can take over and we lose the battle, such as with Marilyn Monroe or Jim Morrison. Sometimes a vampire can be another person who figuratively drinks our blood and can leave us lifeless.

LET THE RIGHT ONE IN speaks to the darkness inside of us, but also to the hope that we won’t always live in darkness. Oskar finds a friend in Eli, and Eli accepts that Oskar does not want to become like him and turn into a vampire. Eli kills people to drink their blood, but he wants to be accepted. That’s what everyone wants in the end, even vampires.

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