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Let the Right One In: A Novel Paperback – October 28, 2008
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John Ajvide Lindqvist’s international bestseller Let the Right One In is “a brilliant take on the vampire myth, and a roaring good story” (New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong), the basis for the multi-film festival award-winning Swedish film, the U.S. adaptation Let Me In directed by Matt Reeves (The Batman), and the Showtime TV series.
It is autumn 1981 when inconceivable horror comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenager 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. . .
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“It's easy to compare Lindqvist to Clive Barker and Neil Gaiman.” ―Dagens Næringsliv (Norway)
“Sweden's Stephen King...a classic tale of horror.” ―Tucson Citizen
“A brilliant take on the vampire myth, and a roaring good story.” ―Kelley Armstrong, bestselling author of Haunted
“Absolutely chilling. This page-turner grabs you from the onset and just won't let go. Vampires at their Anne Ricean best!” ―L. A. Banks, author of Bite the Bullet and the Vampire Huntress series
About the Author
Ebba Segerberg is a translator of Swedish literature with a focus on Swedish crime fiction. Her translations include several installments of the Wallander series by Henning Mankell and Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. She has worked in a variety of other genres and formats including biography, short stories, and screenplays. She holds a PhD in Swedish literature and film studies from the University of California at Berkeley, and currently lives in Saint Louis, Missouri.
- Publisher : St. Martin's Griffin; First edition (October 28, 2008)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 480 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0312355297
- ISBN-13 : 978-0312355296
- Item Weight : 14.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 1.55 x 8.25 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #47,717 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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For those of you who are wanting to read the novel after having seen the film version, there are a few differences from the film. It won't hurt to tell you that in the novel, Eli's guardian does not die at the hospital, and that there is another plotline involving other characters that was left out of the film entirely (it became irrelevant after the guardian's plotline was changed). But that said, you will not be disappointed. Everything that made the film what it was is in the novel and then some, with edges far sharper than in the film. The novel takes you in much deeper into the lives of the characters, where things are rarely black and white and even the most seemingly unsympathetic of them become at least somewhat sympathetic when seen from the inside.
While there are many characters and a number of plotlines going on, at the heart of the story are Oskar and Eli. Oskar is twelve, bullied, a lonely passive victim who fantasizes about revenge. You can see the seeds growing in him, see a future scenario of the sort you read about in the papers where the victim becomes the victimizer in a bloody act of unfocused rage. Eli is also twelve... sort of. And not a victim. Eli is a survivor, no matter what it takes. Above all things, this is a story about loneliness and the need to "let the right one in".
There is a lot of originality in this novel. While it's not much of a revelation to say that Eli is a vampire, it must be said that Lindqvist brings some new things to the vampire genre, things that I will not reveal. And the world of his novel is firmly grounded in its own reality, the world of Swedish suburbia, specifically Blackeberg, in 1982. Lindqvist shows us that even if you don't live in London or New Orleans or even Transylvania, there can still be things unknown moving about in the night.
In addition, Lindqvist imbues his world of Swedish suburbia with an atmosphere that matches, or perhaps shapes, the quiet desperation of its inhabitants. There is a mounting dread always in the background. The fear that something will happen. Or the fear that something won't happen. Dreams and hopes can be as gut-wrenching and torturous as fear. I liked this passage in particular simply for the way it suggests the threat of things unknown:
"The squirrel darts down the trunk of the oak tree, stops, listns. A siren, in the distance. The squirrel judges the sound to be not dangerous, irrelevant. It continues down the tree trunk. All day there have been people in the forest, dogs. Not a moment of calm and only now, when it is dark, does the squirrel dare come down out of the oak tree it has been forced to hole up in all day.
..The squirrel reaches the foot of the tree, runs along a thick root. It does not like to make its way over the ground in the dark, but hunger forces it on. It makes its way with alertness, stopping to listen, looking around every ten meters. Makes sure to steer clear of a badger den that has been inhabited as recently as this summer. He hasn't seen the family for a long time but you can never be too careful.
..Finally the squirrel reaches its goal: the nearest of the many winter stores it has laid up in the fall.
..Just as it picks up a nut between its paws it hears a sound.
..It takes the nut in its teeth and runs straight up into a pine tree without having time to cover over the store. Once in the safety of a branch it takes the nut into its paws again, tries to locate the sound. Its hunger is great and the food only some centimeters from its mouth but the danger must first be located, identified, before it is time to eat.
..The squirrel's head jerks from side to side, his nose trembles as he looks down over the moon-shadowed landscape below and traces the sound to its source. Yes. Taking the long way around was worth it. The scratching, wet sound comes from the badger den.
..Badgers can't climb trees. The squirrel relaxes a little and takes a bite of the nut while it continues to study the ground, but now more as a member of a theater audience, third balcony. Wants to see what will happen, how many badgers there are.
..But what emerges from the badger's den is no badger. The squirrel removes the nut from its mouth, looks down. Tries to understand. Put what it sees together with known facts. Doesn't manage it.
..Therefore takes the nut into its mouth again, dashes further up the trunk, all the way up into the very top.
..Maybe one of those can climb trees.
..You can never be too careful."
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the kind of fiction that unsettles you, that makes you look and keep on looking even when part of you wants very much to look away.
Incredible and gripping vampire novel, one of the best books I've ever read in the genre, Let the Right One In, the international bestseller by Swedish author John Ajvide Lindquvist. Five out of five stars.
Before I read the novel, I watched both the Swedish and American versions of the movie, and then had to read the book to learn more about the fascinating characters. I was captivated and obsessed after watching the movies, both in the same night. I rented them from Blockbuster Video on Blu-ray, and they are available for purchase on Amazon as DVDs, On-Demand or Blu-ray.
The translator (Ebba Segerberg) did a fantastic job and I highly recommend this to Stephen King fans and vampire fans. Overall, the book is in the same vein as the Anne Rice vampire novels, but with a great new spin that I shall not spoil here. Lindqvist has a fresh take on the vampire mythos, but gives many nods to the traditions of the modern genre. It's a horror novel, and it is quite gory and scary at times, but in reality. There is also a fair amount about pedophilia, and murder. Few of the characters are at all likable, but they are fascinating. Lindqvist is a master at characterization, and this book truly about finding great love. Yes, it's romantic. I swear!
About Let The Right One In (Swedish movie 2008): The story is set in Sweden in 1981, and is about a 12 year old boy, Oskar, who is bullied and has some serious psychological issues. Oskar has a tough life and often fantasizes about killing his tormentors. He's going down a dark life path when a strange girl moves in next door. Her name is Eli. She does not go to school and appears to live with her father, and has absolutely no problem wearing a t-shirt and no shoes in the bitterly cold winter night. Makes you wonder what sort of person is immune to cold. Is she a little girl at all, or something more sinister?
Eli and Oskar become friends and the story goes from there. The novel has a lot more than the movies, as it has several other story threads from many different characters. It's really a milieu story, showing a lot about the world and the people who live in the Stockholm suburb of Blackberg. There are some really dark and depressing characters, especially Hakan, who appears to be Eli's father. He's a very sick man.
I blasted through the novel and read it in only a few days. It scared the crap out of me a couple of times and Let the Right One in is an instant classic. It's easy to understand why they made two films (Swedish and an English version) from this novel.
The ending of the book was good, but the movies did it even better. I'm glad I had seen the movies first and I think seeing the movies first is the better idea, as the book is always better, so you won't be disappointed in the movies, as they do leave out a bunch.
The ending was not my favorite, because I think Lindqvist wasn't sure what to do. The fantastic news is that he wrote an epilogue to the epilogue! He put out a short story collection with the epilogue to Let the Right One In, called Let the Old Dreams Die. That is the title of the story about what happens to the characters in the novel. It's a brilliant short story and fills in the gaps and explains what happened. I loved it. The short story gave me chills and I've been thinking about it for days. If you do read the book and enjoy it, you must, must, MUST, read the short story: Let the Old Dreams Die. It was a little slow, but masterfully done and you will love the ending. The most important questions are answered.
The American movie is also great, though I liked the Swedish one better, Both were awesome, don't get me wrong. Both should be viewed. The Swedish one is slower, more contemplative, and the characters more likable, I think, especially Oskar. Consider watching the Swedish one first, as it's more pure and closer to the source material. The screenplay for the American version is terrific, though, and the actors top notch. The American version is faster, scarier, has more Hollywood effects, and you can tell you're watching a Hollywood horror movie.
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I'm so glad I did! At first I was a litle worried that I might have made a mistake, and would find the whole thing silly and childish but I positively devoured the book, which works so well on so many levels. There's the vampire of course, who provides the basis of the whole tale, plus some very gruesome scenes which I had difficulty in getting out of my head for some time; there are extremely well-written and exciting sequences where I just couldn't put the book down as I just HAD to get to the end of the chapter to find out what happened and, rather surprisingly, there's a poignant love story between two seemingly unlikely, rather mature, characters interweaved with the plot. What to me seemed to be the main thread was the story of Oskar, a boy of 12, bullied by his peers and his new-found friendship with the little girl next door (Eli), who helps him face up to his tormentors and is absolutely not what she seems to be, in more ways than one!
The translation is a good one and, although some phraseology is a little Americanised, English spelling is used throughout. Obviously, money is expressed in kronor and place-names, streets etc, have Swedish names, so none of the Scandinavian feel has, thank goodness, been lost.
The author skilfully builds up suspense and keeps the story galloping along, despite the fact that there are quite a lot of characters (I don't think there are too many, despite what other reviewers have said) and there are several stories being told at once, without causing confusion.
What is it about all these Scandinavian authors I've discovered all of a sudden? Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson and now John Ajvide Lindqvist! Brilliant! It's no wonder they're so popular!
To be fair this is a chilling dark story, which is original and in the best tradition of vampire tails, pushes at the edge of our cultural acceptance of what we will allow in a story. Here is a tale with all kinds of dark issues and social taboos laid bare. Thus it is probably perfect for lovers of the genre, but those who occasionally dip into it will find it less compelling - and may leave the reader feeling sullied or disturbed. That is probably in favour of the writing, but as a reader your mileage may vary
The setting is extremely dark, but the story itself lacks some tension, and characters are not compelling. Oskar is a 12 year old boy, and Eli appears to be a girl of about his age, but clearly is something much darker and stranger.
Some of the issues with tension might be the translation - it may read better in Swedish, but whilst I read through to the end with no difficulty, I did not miss the book once I had finished it. The style was consistently no-nonsense but I just felt that the best drawn characters in the book were probably also teh most mixed up and disturbed ones.
the story also did not seem to me to be wholly original. Some aspects of the plot seemed to be borrowed from Vampire Junction, and even though I hated Vampire Junction, I am forced to the conclusion that it was better done in Somtow's book. To avoid the spoilers I won't mention the specific issues, but readers of both works would spot it easily enough.
The book is set in and around an anonymous housing estate, built at the edge of a forest in the suburbs of Stockholm. We are introduced to Oskar, twelve years old, fat and geeky, who is the chief victim of the class bullies, and we immediately feel for him. But then we meet Håkan, a quiet newcomer to the town; but he's also a seedy forty-five year old in a raincoat and has 'serial killer' written all over him - he's carrying a cylinder of anaesthetic, and he's prospecting for a victim - it doesn't take long, and then it's horrorshow time! Meanwhile Oskar meets Eli, a strange young girl who only appears in the evenings in the playground. They gradually strike up a friendship and once they realise that their bedrooms share a wall, they start to send morse code messages to each other; Eli's the first girl who's ever noticed Oskar. The rest of the supporting cast comprises a group of old men, drifters and alcoholics who meet at the pub - one of them thinks he saw something on the night of the first murder but they're all too scared. Eventually all of these character threads come together.
I won't expound any more on the plot as it would spoil the suspense; suffice it to say there are some particularly disturbing scenes in its 500+ pages. The relationship between Oskar and Eli is fascinating; Eli is of course a vampire. When Oskar finds someone to love it is touching, it is also the beginning of his growing up, being able to stand up for himself.
Oskar held the piece of paper with the Morse code in one hand and tapped letters into the wall with the other...
The answer came after a few seconds.
I. M. C.O.M.I.N.G.
They met outside the entrance to her building. In one day she had ... changed. About a month ago a Jewish woman had come to his school, talked to them about the holocaust and shown them slides. Eli was looking a little bit like the people in those pictures.
The sharp light from the fixture above the door cast dark shadows on her face, as if the bones were threatening to protrude through the skin, as if the skin had become thinner. And ...'
What have you done with your hair?'
He had thought it was the light that made it look like that, but when he came closer he saw that a few thick white strands ran through her hair. Like an old person. Eli ran a hand over her head. Smiled at him.
'It'll go away. What should we do?'
This novel was entirely different to any other vampire story I've read. It was thoroughly modern with no hints of Gothic melodrama at all. It was too long, but thoroughly gripping if you have the stomach for it. Moreover it takes our current fascination with all literary things Nordic, particularly crime novels, to another different level. Read it if you dare! (4.5 stars)