[Book Review] ‘Let Me In’ Author Disturbs With Provocative ‘Little Star’

Although some American movie studios are making an increased effort to release features simultaneously across the globe, there’s still a substantial “tape delay” when it comes to book releases. It’s frustrating to read an alleged John Ajvide Lindqvist tweet about turning Let Me In into a book series, while knowing that his well-received 2010 novel Little Star still hasn’t reached American shores. On Tuesday, October 2, Little Star finally gets the American hardcover release it deserves, and with this, his fourth novel, Lindqvist truly establishes himself as a horror heavyweight. Intermittently touching, disturbing, and horrifying, it’s as good a horror novel as I’ve read all year. And don’t get me started on his corker of an ending. The full review follows.

Whenever a horror author from outside the U.S. sees some measure of success, it becomes all too easy to label that person “[Foreign Country]’s answer to Stephen King”. It’s a lazily common blurb that undoubtedly sells books (4 out the 11 pull-quotes on the cover of Little Star reference King), but in the case of John Ajvide Lindqvist, it’s a comparison that’s not crazy far off the mark. Both King and Lindqvist create rich, memorable characters that quickly endear themselves to the reader––which only serves to heighten the tension when those characters encounter violence or heartbreak later in the novel. It’s a tightrope act involving loads of author/reader trust, and Lindqvist walks the line masterfully. Not to say that Lindqvist is as good as King, even on his best day, but it makes you wonder why a completely mediocre series of Swedish novels by Stieg Larsson has taken this country by storm, while a true talent like Lindqvist lingers in relative obscurity.

With Little Star, Lindqvist explores the chemistry that develops between two female outcasts. The first is an abandoned baby, found in the woods and raised by adoptive parents. At age 14 (and after a first act twist that left me slack-jawed), she competes in the Swedish version of American Idol. The second outcast is a 14-year-old female fan of Idol, and once the two connect over the internet, sparks fly. Sparks of friendship, sparks of obsession, sparks of violence. The plot of Little Star is almost indescribable without divulging the good stuff, and I’m not even sure I want to try.

Keep in mind, Lindqvist isn’t some cheesy mass-market author methodically parsing out his moments of violence in the name of pacing. Oh no. Linqvist’s shocks are as unpredictable and organic as life itself, to the point where you feel that divulging even the barest plotline to others would betray the wicked-sweet moments that he’s so carefully orchestrated. On this particular subject, I will speak no further. But readers can rest assured that Lindquist’s Little Star retains the same sick, twisted, yet strangely affectionate storytelling talent he established with Let Me In*. And that ending. Oh my.

4.5 Out of 5 Skulls

*Originally published in Sweden under the title Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In), St. Martin’s re-titled the novel Let Me In for American publication. So quit blaming poor Matty Reeves for the lost Morrissey reference.

Little Star

 
  • kris.coon

    John Ajvide Lindqvist is quickly becoming one of my favorite. authors. Let the Right One In, Handling the Undead and Little Star were all great. Harbour is good, but not great. Just brought, Let the Old Dreams die yesterday, which is a collection of short storys. Also I wasn’t aware John had a twitter. What is it and what’s this talk of a Let Me In, book series? I can’t find anything on it.

  • Sandor-Clegane

    “Let the Right One In” is still considered to be the proper title and even the American publisher (as seen by the cover that you posted) now refers to it as such.

  • Ryan Daley

    Hey there, Sandor.  Guess we’ll go over this again.  When it was first published in the US in October of 2007, St. Martin’s titled the novel Let Me In.  I’m holding a first edition American hardcover in my hands right this second.  It says Let Me In, right there on the cover. When the Swedish film was released the next year, another version of the novel was briefly released as a paperback tie-in under the title Let the Right One In. Then the title was changed BACK to Let Me In for the American movie tie-in edition.  For many of our readers, their first introduction to Lindqvist will come through Matt Reeves cinematic adaptation.  So to avoid reader confusion, and also considering that I write for a US-based website, I chose to reference the book by the American title under which it was published.

  • Sandor-Clegane

    I’m aware of that.

    I’m also aware that the majority of people — Americans included — refer to the novel by its original name nowadays. You find anyone discussing the novel nowadays, it’s by LTROI. LMI is pretty much associated with Reeves’ film. Keep in mind that the AMERICAN publishers have touted all of JAL’s subsequent books with “From the author of Let the Right One In” NOT Let Me In and even refer to the title as such in the “From this author section” in the inside of the book.

    I’ll also contest your statement that most of the readers of Bloody-Disgusting were introduced to LTROI via the remake given how much attention it got from the horror media. And given that LMI only made twice as much as LTROI did despite being in hundreds more theaters I’d also guess that there’s a 50/50 that someone who knows about LMI is at least familiar with the Swedish film if they haven’t seen it.

  • Sandor-Clegane

    Also fwiw JAL confirmed on We the Infected that the Twitter account is fake and he has no plans on continuing LTROI beyond the epilogue he already wrote.