Let the Right One In Author:John Ajvide Lindqvist, Ebba Segerberg (Translator) 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 i... more »s 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....
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Amidst an overabundance of teen vampire stories, most of which have nothing scary or original to say, Let the Right One is a chilling and refreshing change. The vampire Eli is a real killer, out of necessity not evil, who will beg, buy or steal blood but feels neither bloodlust nor overwrought angst. She simply does what she must to survive.
Oskar, the human boy Eli befriends, struggles with the more violent impulses of human nature. Although for him, as for most people, these impulses remain fantasies of rebellion against unbearable circumstances. Let the Right One In doesn't flinch from the more sordid aspects of vampirism and the natural aggression that the will to survive gives to everyone. The scenes between Eli and her human guardian, a pedophile, are particularly unsettling, as are Oskar's feelings of impotence against his human bullies.
But this bleaker view is lightened by Eli & Oskar's gentle, tentative friendship. Together they are innocent, and even playful, although surrounded by a vicious world. Their trust and affection for each other doesn't arise without complication. There are betrayals and regrets on both sides, as would be expected if you really found out that your best friend harbored secret murderous tendencies. Both Eli and Oskar truly behave like adolescents, as Oskar is and Eli has been for centuries.
Let the Right One In is a remarkable new entry into vampire fiction, both clear-eyed and believable but slightly surreal. The horror is stark and born of genuine human hatreds and hungers, while still acknowledging the power of innocence.
Some of the content is hard to stomach. Not because of gore, but because of graphic pedophile scenes. If you can get past that, it is a very interesting vampire book. I chose to skip over those parts in the book and enjoyed the rest of the story. It is dark and a little bleak at parts, but I couldn't put it down.
Gritty and difficult to read emotionally. I agree that the ending started to get "weird" but...given the increase in Columbine-type school shootings, this book sort of fits into modern time. The book casually drops references to child abuse, pedophiles, drug use among teens, and alcoholism- all of which make life in Sweeden (or Norway? forgive me for drawing a blank on the setting) sound quite bleak and hopeless. Did I mention this book is about vampires? But they are not the sparkly/sexy teenybopper vampires of the 21st century- thankfully!
By the way, the original movie interpretation is quite true to the book. Hopefully the American remake will also do justice (though i doubt it...)
I am not a vampire fan, so my comments are not likely to be as positive as those of many others. I have read all of Anne Rice's vampire books, however, and I liked them a lot, so it isn't that I can't like a book with vampires in it.
This one, though, is not even close to Rice's standard. A fairly thick book (my copy is 472 pages), it is more a series of events than an exploration of character or a way of life. Several characters are sketched here, yet we get to know only one, Oskar, in any kind of detail. Even the main source of interest, Eli, is a bit of a mystery.
Eli is vampirish. I say this because this small childlike person has characteristics of vampires yet fiercely says no, it's a disease. So this is a slightly different take on the vampire mythology, to have it be a thing that takes over the "real" self and to live independently of the self. There's no denying that Eli sucks blood out of people and to me that does define vampire.
Oskar is a 12-year-old boy, nearly 13, when he first meets Eli. He is a bit pudgy and some of his class mates make cruel fun of him. He is used to being bullied and generally puts up with it, however awful it gets. His position as pariah, of course, means he doesn't have friends any more. Nobody is going to associate with him and be tainted. He is therefore ripe for friendship when the sylphlike Eli arrives on the playground in his development. Little by little, the two strike up a friendship, and when the chips are down we can see that they will do what they can to help the other.
Meanwhile, other dramas are taking place on the fringes. Tommy, who lives in the apartment house next door, is putting up with his mother's suitor, a policeman who thinks he has the answers for this trouble-maker boy. A group of alcoholics get together and trade stories and drinks, and one of them is involved off and on with a woman who clearly cares a lot about him. These peripheral characters enter Oskar and Eli's lives when a man who lives with Eli kills a boy for his blood and the hunt for a "ritual killer" is on.
The book is written simply and little time is given to creating a scene carefully or providing the details of a character. Much of the story is predictable. I found myself yawning when I turned the page and there was an attack or a description of how the vampire couldn't come inside without being invited. No surprises.
The writing reminds me of "young adult" novels in the scarcity of detail, the emphasis on plot, the simple terminology. If it weren't for the gorey details and some sexual imagery it might be found in that section of the library. I found it singularly unfulfilling.
This a good book that took the vampire tale and made it into something original, while daring to take the narrative places I've never seen another horror novel go. The book concerns a young boy in Sweden named Oskar who finds himself the constant target of his school's most vicious bullies, and his friendship with the darkly mysterious new "girl", Eli, who moves into the apartment next to where he lives. Eventually it is discovered that Eli is a vampire child, but I won't reveal anymore in this review about the plot or the characters themselves. Suffice it to say this is a novel worth reading, as it is deftly written and daringly original, but those who are easily discomforted might pause before beginning - there are graphic scenes involving a pedophile that were very nauseating to read, and the horror violence contained in this book is extremely graphic, especially considering that children are involved. However, this is still a great book.