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Let the Right One in [Paperback]

John Ajvide Lindqvist , Ebba Segerberg
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Paperback: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Griffin; Mti edition (9 Oct 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312355297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312355296
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.9 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 111,912 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm in! 20 Aug 2011
I absolutely love this book. I've read and reread it, and still can't put it down each time. I find the language easy to read; the plot riveting; the minor characters crucial; the 'angst' heartbreaking but realistically told. To me, this is like a very clever jigsaw, where all the pieces are gradually drawn together. Each little detail is crucial and forms a foundation on which the story builds. I wouldn't change a thing. Read it. Please!
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  227 reviews
118 of 131 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A warning for those who have seen the movie version.... 5 Nov 2008
By W.Kim - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The novel, (I've a used copy of the UK translation) is painted on a much broader (encompassing and developing characters that were quite secondary in the film), far wilder and much scarier. Perhaps it's the actress, but the cinematic Eli seems very human at times. In the book, you never forget that she's essentially inhuman.

The author has an interesting knack for making even the most reprehensible characters (worse than the vampire) sympathetic, including a zombie pedophile, sadistic violent children, and a crew of pathetic alcoholics.

I only wish the translator's prose style wasn't so plain, the story could definitely use a little juicing up - not in terms of plot, so much as language.

The current film adaptation's stays close to the first half of the book (though for reasons of emphasis, much has been condensed, compressed, combined and left out - esp. the supporting characters - who add a lot to the original story) up to about the halfway point in the story, when some disturbing possibilities hinted at by the author play out, taking the story in two potentially difficult to take scenes, into JT Leroy-ish, "The Heart is Deceitful Among All Things" territory.

Those interested in reading the book be forewarned. However if you can handle those elements, action and pure horror elements get more plentiful and far, far wilder in the second half of the novel. It's a far harder ride than the movie.

In a way this is a great response to the surfeit of Buffy imitators on the popular fiction shelves these days. After all you'd have to be in pretty f_@kin' dire straits to let someone as utterly "other" (not to mention lethal) as the book's Eli into your life. And Blackeberg (the public housing estate Oskar edures) ain't Sunnydale. It's gotta' enough monsters even without the supernatural ones. (Think, Hubert Selby-Lite, with Vampires).
47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of unsettling but deeply absorbing originality 2 April 2009
By Whitt Patrick Pond - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
John Ajvide Lindqvist's Let Me In (aka Let The Right One In, depending on the edition) is absolutely one of the best novels of its kind that I've read in years. To attempt to categorize it as simply a horror novel or a vampire novel is not to give it its full due. The most apt comparison I can make is that it's something of a cross between Stephen King at his very best and, oddly enough, Henry Thoreau in that its characters all seem driven by "lives of quiet desperation".

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.
28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lucky is he who has such a friend 12 Jan 2009
By E. A Solinas - Published on Amazon.com
Vampire stories tend to come in two flavours -- either they're creepy horor stories, or celebrations of goth hotties tortured by their immortality.

But John Ajvide Lindqvist's "Let The Right One In" is neither kind or story. Instead this haunting, atmospheric Swedish movie is a poignant look at a very unique friendship between a young boy and a vampire child. His spare prose has a haunting poetic edge even in the violent scenes, and is littered with moments of pure creepiness and beauty.

A man and a young girl have moved into the apartment next to Oskar's. But he's more concerned with the savage bullies that attack him every single day.

But as he vents his frustrations by stabbing a tree, he sees a ghostly young girl named Eli, who informs him that she can't be his friend. She turns out to be as much of an oddball as Oskar -- especially since she only ventures out at night, smells like death, and is unaffected by the winter cold. But despite her odd greeting, the two strike up an innocent friendship.

At the same time, her servant Hakan is going around town killing young boys for Eli's sake, and trying to blackmail her into sleeping with him in exchange for blood. Oskar realizes that Eli is a bona fide vampire -- and not really a girl -- but doesn't intend to let that get in the way of their puppy love. Yet when Hakan's errands go horribly awry, Oskar finds himself to be the only person Eli can rely on.

Trust me, "Let the Right One In" has no sentimental ideas about children (even vampiric ones) -- they can be more violent than anyone, because they are more vulnerable. The adults are all distant and/or alcoholic, leaving the children to fend for themselves -- which makes the tender, clumsy connection between Eli and Oskar all the more striking.

The plot starts out slow, with Oskar expressing his anger and loneliness in violent fantasies, and Hakan being all creepy and pedophiley as he harvests blood for Eli. The story gradually grows tenser and more murky as the tensions grow more overpowering, leading to a gruesome clash in a cold swimming pool (with shattered glass "over the water like myriad white stars").

While Lindqvist's prose also starts out stark and spare, it becomes more dreamlike and haunting once Eli and Oskar start meeting at night. The words become more poetic ("Her fingers were long and slender as twigs), and even the brutality of Eli feeding off a teenage boy is written beautifully. Simultaneously, Lindqvist pares down the conversations between Hakan and Eli to mere brief exchanges, and thus keeping Eli's true nature a mystery.

And Lindqvist does a brilliant job with the vampiric angle. It's eerie rather than bloody or scary, and he manages to come up with some new twists (Eli's "dead" smell and matted hair). But this book's heart is the bittersweet, strangely innocent romance between Eli and Oskar -- they play with puzzles, laugh on the swings, and listen to each other through the walls.

And their moments of violence -- Oskar's rage and Eli's bloodthirsty feedings -- are only reflections that these children aren't meant to be out in the grimy daylit world. Oskar grows in courage and confidence thanks to Eli, and the lonely otherworldly Eli finds the one person in the world who really cares. Oh yeah, and there's the creepy Hakan, Eli's grotesque "guardian" who tries to starve the young vampire into having sex with him.

"Let the Right One In" is the sort of vampire novel that comes along only rarely, full of violence, darkness, beauty and a haunting wintry world of loneliness. Definitely a must-read.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Utterly wonderful and grotesque. 2 Dec 2008
By A. Trotter - Published on Amazon.com
I can't believe they set this under "Romance", even if it does technically contain something like an adolescent romance. If one of the adolescents were over a hundred years old.

Seriously, this could be one of the most disturbingly gorgeous books I've ever read, and I have read a lot. It's not an American author writing it, it's a Swedish guy; and the translation I read was the British one, so maybe the flavor would be different for this edition; not sure. Anyways, the story - is sometimes gross (there's a lot of urine and other bodily fluids) and sometimes sublime (the choices you make for people, the things you do for love or freedom). It's so fantastic, so gorgeous, so perfectly wicked - this child vampire who doesn't bother to clean up, whose closest relationship is with a pedophile... the boy who gets beaten up so regularly he has a system in place to cope with wetting his pants... the pedophile who is not the one in power in his relationship, who does such awful things to protect his love... it's amazing. And it's got a GOOD ending, a satisfying one. I can say that without giving anything away.

I had such a difficult time reading it and it was so worth it.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True Horror Story 21 Sep 2010
By Mister Chan - Published on Amazon.com
Having watched the original Swedish film, I decided to read the book also.
I think maybe when watching horror films audiences are too accustomed to ridiculous over exaggerated use of blood and gore, or worse yet steamy shower scenes with chainsaw axe murders hiding behind the curtain. How the director of "Let the Right One In" portrayed was much more straightforward than sinister in that regard. It was a true story, simple horror-esque tragedy.

In the book, John Ajvide Lindqvist delves us deeper into the mind of the characters. Although, I would say both pieces of work complement each other, but have their own peculiar differences. This is the kind of story that leaves you wondering. It doesn't tell you what to expect and explain clearly for you exactly what and why everything happens. There are merely things that happen, the characters witness and instigate them, but as the story develops all the events and props are interconnected.

The more we learn about each character the more we wonder what lead them to be what they are, and there are no heroes and masked crusaders. I think the overall message of both being a statement in the human condition. Monsters pretend to be human to better get by - but sometimes to survive decent people need to become monsters.
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