It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.
But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night….
Now, don’t get me wrong; this was a great story. Very fresh and inventive – a real standout from all the other Vampire novels. Truly dark and beautifully twisted.
However – I couldn’t stand reading this. That’s not to say this was badly done; it’s just, I’ve been studying Professional Writing and Editing for almost 2 years, and I found myself constantly picking up flaws in the writing. Of course, I’ve given the author the benefit of the doubt (this is, after all, originally written in Swedish) and assume that this is just an awkward translation. A very awkward translation.
There is overuse of talking heads, pronouns, repetition (showing then telling, or vice-versa), the poorly constructed fragment, complex-compound et al sentences, awkward verbs … the list goes on. In moderation, they would have been fine. In fact, the early conversations between Eli and Hakan need those talking head elements to keep Eli’s identity shrouded in mystery. That, and it hones the reader’s focus in on the context of their unsettling conversations. But, what we don’t need, is for this to be the structure of every conversation. I mean, it’s called painting an image, Not “let the reader imagine two talking Swedish heads in a maybe cold or maybe dark room”. I hate books that lack imagery.
On that note, the amount of times author John Ajvide Lindqvist would write out the bare necessities of a conversation, then either follow or prelude if with the exact details of why they were talking or what they were talking about – trust me, it gets damn frustrating.
And don’t get me started on the confusing use of verbs.
If you’re someone who isn’t too irked by these things, then by all means, read away. But if you think this is something that would disturb the flow, then I suggest watching the Swedish film (give the American one a miss). Because, really, this is a great story, just not a great book. The only shame is that the film couldn’t include every chapter.