Book Review: Let the Right One In

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

translation from the Swedish to English by Ebba Segerberg

“Can I come in?”

Oskar whispered, “Ye-es…”

“Say that I can come in.”

“You can come in.”

Set in 1981 in  a lower working-class town called Vällingsby, Let The Right One In centers on twelve-year-old Oskar who lives with his loving and over-protective mother.   Away from school he listens to Kiss and collects articles about murders for his scrapbook.  During school, he is mercilessly tormented by a group of bullies.   The emotional and physical abuse he suffers at their hands is described in realistic and heartbreaking fashion.  It is little wonder he jumps at the chance of befriending a solitary girl he meets in the park. 

Trouble is, her arrival coincides with a string of recent murders.

Oskar quickly grows close to Eli, who encourages him to stand up to his bullies.

His friendship with her is set parallel to the relationship between the fifty something year-olds Lacke and Virginia.  Lacke just wants to stay sober and save enough money to buy a little retirement cottage for the two of them.

Unfortunately, their paths cross with Eli and Oskar.

Lacke suspects the young girl of being responsible for murdering a friend of his though most people won’t listen to him.   And Virginia comes into direct contact with the Eli…

One of the major pluses of this coming-of-age novel is the characters.  There are no stereotypes here.  No one-dimensionl cliches.  They’re all incredibly real people- most of them are basically good folks who just want to live their lives the best they can.

The negative side of the novel, sadly- is again, the characters.  Or, more specifically, that there are too many of them.  While Lacke’s and Virginia’s relationship was a beautiful contrast to the one between Oskar and Eli,  there was another subplot revolving  another  young boy which, while also well-written, seemed entirely unnecessary.  And with less time spent on Oskar, I found my interest in his outcome waning by the end.    The fact that the book was at least 100 pages longer than it should have been, didn’t help in that matter.

Regardless of those few negative aspects, the novel is a gripping and richly told story.  Not quite horror in the truest sense of the word, it is more of a  look into the lives of a group of people trying to survive in their gritty town.    And of a young girl who needs their blood if she is to survive.

Published in: on November 21, 2011 at 6:01 pm  Comments (26)  
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26 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You always suck me in and make me think of finding the book on video:) Sounds like a really good story. When you started with “Say that I can come in” and the person Oscar is talking to want to hear him welcome him into his home. The first thing I thought about were vampires. How they must be welcome into the home. Than when I read farther I see that is is not about vamps. As you mention it is about normal people and one a bit insane to want to kill. But than I read the end in which puzzle me “And of a young girl who needs their blood if she is to survive”. Why do she need the blood to survive? I swear Tasha this is like the commercial that hold onto you so that the person want to go to the movie.

  2. I loved this book. I’d say there was plenty of horror, in the murders, and Haakon’s fate was pretty horrific, not to mention the pool scene… But as you said, it was the details of the situation that make it so relatable (is that a word?). I think that’s Ajvide’s gift, drawing fully-realized portraits of the characters.

    Lora, it is about a vampire, Eli. There are two movies based on the book. The first was a Swedish version, “Låt den rätte komma in”, English “Let the Right One In” then remade in the US as “Let Me In.” Definitely not your standard vampire movie!

  3. Hey Lora,

    Thanks! Your comment made me smile. 🙂

    I was going to respond to your question but I see that DD beat me to it by mentioning the films.

  4. Hey DD,

    I was wondering if you’d read it. Did you mention it on your blog at some point? Or am I thinking of someone else?

    Regarding whether it’s horror or not, you make a good point. I was thinking more along the lines of the fact that it hadn’t frightened me. I didn’t get those goosebumpy, is anything standing behind me- feeling while reading it. But yes, the subject matter and how it is played out in some scenes is horrific.

    And yes, relatable is a word. I use it all the time. But then I make up words all the time, too. 😉

  5. Lora,

    Let me know if you see either of the films. I’d be curious what you think.

  6. Get out of here, I know both! I know them from past advertisement. I definitely remember the one not in English was debating back rather if I want to read an entire movie instead of relaxing and taking it in so I never went. When I did see the English version hubby said nope lets give horror a break, lol. I am going to ask him if we could check out the video place to see if they have either or there. Now when he don’t want to watch I can tell him I watch it when he is sleeping. Funny though when I had watch both of the previews I did not know the little girl was a vamp. I thought she was a monster/devil killing people. Okay must see this month or next month! Thanks ladies:)

  7. Oh, if you are interested in a movie that have you holding on your chair watch “Shelter”

    It is so good. I typically watch stuff like this late in the night and I am glad I seen it in the early afternoon. It is not a vamp movie but who ever wrote it did an awesome job!

  8. I don’t think I did a review of LTROI, but another writer I talk with on Twitter, Anne Michaud wanted to do a joint review of it with me on her blog so that might be up next month sometime (whenever we can each find time to work on it 😉 ) She and I are both huge fans.

    That’s true, it didn’t have the ‘creepy’ moments that make your hair stand on end. Lindqvist’s latest, Harbor, has more of those. But he seems to be more about the people in the story, making it as real as possible, as if you could turn a corner and see these people. I really enjoy his books and writing style.

  9. Lora, that’s funny. Glad I was able to remind you about them. I haven’t actually seen the films either. Been wanting to.

    Oh, and thank you for the youtube link! Looks like my cuppa tea. 🙂 Plus, Julianne Moore is one of my fave modern actresses. So double yeah!

  10. You read my mind, DD. I was going to ask if you’d read Harbor. I hope to get a copy in the near future. He is really good!

    Oh, and do let me know if you write the review with your friend. I’d love to read your thoughts on it in depth.

  11. […] Tweet of the Day: Book Review: Let the Right One In […]

  12. I’ve wanted to read this book for years! Glad to hear that you enjoyed reading it–I’ll have to put it on my reading list for when the term is over.

  13. Yah, I had an ARC of ‘Harbor’ from St. Martin’s Press. I did a review of it here. That’s the one I did the giveaway for. 🙂

  14. Hiya Beth,

    I hope you enjoy it. And continued good luck with your studies.

  15. DD,

    OH, that’s right! I thought I was connecting his name to you for a reason. Off to re-read the review.

  16. Sounds like an interesting read. Will have to check it out.

  17. Heya Ralfast,

    Let me know what you think!

  18. Yes, it sounds like my kind of book, too.
    *adds to Christmas wish list*

  19. Hope you enjoy it, Diane!

  20. Hi Tasha, we were at the video place on the weekend and I knew they was gong to ask me but ofcourse I was hoping someone knew what I was talking about, lol, do you happen to know the name of the movie in German 🙂 ?

  21. It didn’t frighten you. Of course. Thou art strong and mad!

    Sounds gripping–and I was just about to ask you what you were reading these days. 🙂

  22. Heya Lora!

    It’s called, So finster die Nacht.


  23. Oh, Sputsie.

    You always know how to compliment me!

    “thou art strong and mad”- *happy sniffles*

  24. Adding it to my “to read” list

  25. I swear that until I got to the end of your review, I had no idea this was about vampires. This MUST be a good book (or a good review of it); I’m sick to death of vampire stories, and yet after reading your review, I really want to read this one.

  26. 🙂

    Mary, I was about to say that it’s not your typical vamp story, but then I thought about how there really isn’t a typical vamp story if you consider everything from pre-Dracula to post Anne Rice.

    I did have a few issues with LTROI as mentioned in the review, but overall, it is a really, really good novel.

    If you do read it, please let me know what you thought.

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