Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In

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...

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Title:Let the Right One In
Author:John Ajvide Lindqvist
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Let the Right One In Reviews

  • Manny

    You know that bit at the beginning of

    , where Salieri has composed this very uninspired little march, which he and the Emperor play for Mozart? Then Mozart sits down at the keyboard and says, hm, that's not quite right, is it? And he messes around with it for a couple of minutes, until he's suddenly transformed it into "Here's farewell to the games with the girls" from

    .

    Well, it's like that

    and

    . John Ajvide Lindqvist has looked at Ste

    You know that bit at the beginning of

    , where Salieri has composed this very uninspired little march, which he and the Emperor play for Mozart? Then Mozart sits down at the keyboard and says, hm, that's not quite right, is it? And he messes around with it for a couple of minutes, until he's suddenly transformed it into "Here's farewell to the games with the girls" from

    .

    Well, it's like that

    and

    . John Ajvide Lindqvist has looked at Stephenie Meyer's book and said hm, that's not quite right, is it? And he's somehow rearranged its elements into a bloody masterpiece. I wouldn't have thought it could be done.

    I can hear Mozart's irritating high-pitched giggle. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!

  • Kemper

    After watching the Swedish movie this book is based on, I thought it was an intensely creepy film and promptly got the book to check out the full story. I figured that the planned American film version would be a pale shadow of the original because there’s no way that a Hollywood movie studio is going to show that messed up tale in it’s original form to audiences in the U.S. Little did I know that even the Swedish producers didn’t have the collective nutsack to give us the full story on how godd

    After watching the Swedish movie this book is based on, I thought it was an intensely creepy film and promptly got the book to check out the full story. I figured that the planned American film version would be a pale shadow of the original because there’s no way that a Hollywood movie studio is going to show that messed up tale in it’s original form to audiences in the U.S. Little did I know that even the Swedish producers didn’t have the collective nutsack to give us the full story on how goddamn twisted the book is.

    Set in the early ‘80s, it features a 12 year old boy named Oskar whose alcoholic father and overprotective mother are divorced. Oskar is an outcast and is badly bullied by other kids in his class, and he’s developing a pretty good case of homicidal rage because of it. In fact, he’s well on his way to becoming the kind of guy who dances around his basement while screaming at his latest victim to put the lotion on it’s skin or else it gets the hose again.

    Before Oskar completely turns into Buffalo Bill, he meets Eli, a deadly vampire who appears to be a 12 year old girl. Oskar and Eli strike up an unlikely friendship that’s almost a pre-adolescent romance, but things are going off the rails around them. Eli’s version of Renfield is a creepy pedophile who is jealous of their relationship and can’t be counted on to keep Eli supplied with fresh blood. When Eli’s need for food makes her sloppy, the results are victims and traces that threaten to reveal her. Juvenile delinquents, Swedish alcoholics, a strict cop, a jar of acid and a herd of cats all collide in a variety of terrible ways.

    This is a gloriously gruesome and disturbing horror novel that would probably cause Stephanie Meyer to have a stroke if she ever even dared to hold a copy of it in her hackish little hands. Like the best horror novels, the gore and monsters aren’t the scary parts, it’s the way that the ’normal’ people treat each other that will really haunt you.

  • Jason

    Yo, lesson for you, Stephenie:

    is how you write a fucking vampire novel.

    So you can run and tell THAT.

  • Paul Bryant

    I finally got my revenge on Sweden. For most of my life I’ve been bombarded with newspapers and radio telling me how Sweden is so much much very much absolutely completely better than Britain at practically everything. Here’s some random quotes from the BBC news archive :

    “Sweden has probably the strongest freedom of information law anywhere in the world.”

    “Sweden has one of the best staffed health services in the world. But as a parent, Sweden seems the perfect place to have children.”

    “BBC's Joe

    I finally got my revenge on Sweden. For most of my life I’ve been bombarded with newspapers and radio telling me how Sweden is so much much very much absolutely completely better than Britain at practically everything. Here’s some random quotes from the BBC news archive :

    “Sweden has probably the strongest freedom of information law anywhere in the world.”

    “Sweden has one of the best staffed health services in the world. But as a parent, Sweden seems the perfect place to have children.”

    “BBC's Joe Wilson on how Sweden became a top athletics nation. What can Sweden teach GB?”

    “Sweden says it aims to completely wean itself off oil within 15 years, without building new nuclear plants..”

    “In a survey of the 26 most industrialised countries, only Sweden came out better.” (Better at what? Oh… life…love…happiness…)

    “Sweden and Denmark show most clearly what spelling reform can do. Sweden has gradually given itself a fairly sound spelling system.” (Yes, spelling reform is important too! Admittedly this didn’t make me as furiously jealous as the other stuff. But still – Sweden. Again.)

    “If you want my answer, I think we should look at how they do it in Sweden. They have high taxation and a better standard of living which means everyone feels they should contribute”

    Blah blah blah. And Abba too! Is there no end to their tall blond pretty perfection and their warm fuzzy wraparound social democracy? But now, one grungy vampire tale Let the Right One In let’s me know in no uncertain terms that Swedes suffer too. Behind the perky teeth and healthy children and universal dentistry and free housing for all and trams and no nuclear waste and Mamma Mia there’s urban decay, neglected glue-sniffing kids, violence, drunkenness, wasted lives and compellingly unpleasant vampires. This is chicken soup for my soul, with swedes!

    And not only that, but as many persons have pointed out, this is a kind of anti-Twilight, given that the only sexually attractive vampire around is a 200 year old 12 year old girl and the only attracting going on is with an adult paedophile and a miserable lonely 12 year old boy. So stick that up your sacro-iliac, Bella and Edward! I fart in your general direction!

    This book gets major points for being so accurate about childhood terrors of the non-imaginary kind (bullying). In fact it's really about childhood neglect and the vampire stuff can be read as an extended poetic symbol. But the vampire stuff is also gory and it

    , so you can have your sensitive cake and you can greedily gobble it up it too.

    Anyway, altogether, a maxillo-facial gothtastic read - 3.5 stars.

    *****

    Update : the film rocks too. It pulls a few punches and cuts out a major zombie theme but otherwise a does a great job. Rent it!

    Up-update - I was referring here to the movie Let the Right One In by Thomas Alfredson, made in Sweden in 2009 and not the Hollywood remake by Matt Reeves just released, which I haven't seen.

    Upupupupdate : I saw the American remake and that's great too - I wouldn't lie to you, I was very surprised. So - rent that one too!

    Upupupupupupdate : they're still at it! Now I'm being told that although Sweden gets a million tons of snow

    because of their

    no one ever falls down and no bus is ever late and no road is ever closed yet a couple of days of Swedish snow in Britain and

    .

    Bite them, Eli, bite them all! Don't leave a single Swede unbitten!

  • Stephen

    …soiled and a bit emotionally

    .

    That’s the best I can do to describe how this book made me feel. It’s dark, morose and...really…really...

    …creepy. Not strange sounds and creaking doors creepy. Creepy like that "overly affectionate" uncle who stares at you too often and always wants a hug that lasts for an inappropriate length of time. That kind of creepy.

    This book oozes it. 

    The working class Swedish suburb where the story takes place feels dingy, depressing and rundown. The p

    …soiled and a bit emotionally

    .

    That’s the best I can do to describe how this book made me feel. It’s dark, morose and...really…really...

    …creepy. Not strange sounds and creaking doors creepy. Creepy like that "overly affectionate" uncle who stares at you too often and always wants a hug that lasts for an inappropriate length of time. That kind of creepy.

    This book oozes it. 

    The working class Swedish suburb where the story takes place feels dingy, depressing and rundown. The people moving through the narrative are sad, detached and very weird (mostly) and the atmosphere is a kind of artsy fogginess that makes everything seem dreamlike and slightly…well….

    .

    All of which adds up to a big, fat, musty pants load of

    .   Of course, it’s horror, and Swedish horror at that, so creepy means its doing something right.

    Beyond the high creepy quotient, this story is hard to pin down. While the main character is a vampire, this is not really a vampire story. It's more a violent, existential character study about “outcasts” living on the fringe of society. It just so happens that one of these outcasts is a gothy, child vampire of dubious age and sexuality who moves into this economically depressed neighborhood and befriends an adolescent boy named Oskar. Here’s Eli from the movie (which I have not yet seen):

    good casting because that’s a pretty close approximation of how I visualized

    Eli.

    The aforementioned Oskar, our main character, is a 12 year old whose life is a bit of a mess. He's sad, lonely and incontinent and splits his time between being mercilessly bullied by his schoolmates and indulging in a rich, twisted fantasy world where he murders his tormentors in sick, disgusting ways. Here’s a shot of Oskar “at play”

    Oskar’s dad is an alcoholic who lives in the country and his mother, who is mentioned often but rarely heard from in the book seems both over-protective and incredibly neglectful. His life is bordering on tragic. 

    However, as far from normal as Oskar and Eil may seem, the "I'm So VERY Odd" Award goes to Eli’s “Renfield-like” man-servant, Hakan. Hakan’s job, which he does out of

    love for Eli, is to secure the vampire’s nourishment. In his spare time, Hakan is a sick, unhinged, pedophile (now you understand the shudder) who is constantly struggling with his predelictions and the awful things he has to do to keep Eli alive.

    Again...

    Trust me, by the end of the story, Hakan dumps a whole truckload of creepy all over the story. Oh and no spoilers but just remember...ACID....wow!!!

    I struggled with the rating for this book because I don't want to mislead by having my rating indicate that I thought this was “middle of road good.” Parts of it are much better than that...but parts are also worse. The book is a tad schizophrenic. There are some amazing 5 star aspects and some unappealing 1 and 2 star components, all of which coagulate into an overall rating of “I liked it” but didn't love it. 

    On the positive side, the prose is excellent and the characters of Eli, Hakan and Oskar are very interesting. In addition, Eli is an original and superbly realistic vampire that I thought was just a wonderful take on the mythos. Had the story dealt more with those three components and with the unique form of vampirism that the novel postulates, I would have been far more happy with the book.

    Unfortunately (and here we get to the bad), the story gets seriously bogged down with a handful of other characters in the town whose stories were just not compelling to me. I kept losing focus on the story whenever the narrative slipped to one of these ancillaries and it really degraded my enjoyment of the story. Also, the dreariness of the whole story did begin to weigh on me. It just got a bit too much. 

    I thought the end was well done and kept pace with the level of realism that the author was going for with the story. Overall, I just found the "non central" aspects of the story a little too dull to keep my attention. That and the "life sucks" tone that never lets up kept my overall level of appreciation a bit muted. 

    Still, good writing and a very original, character driven vampire tale. A strong 3.0 to 3.5 stars.  Recommended. 

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