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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A coming-of-age fable - with vampires
Let The Right One In, the English translation of the novel Låt Den Rätte Komma In by John Ajvide Lindqvist, is a vampire novel that has as much to do with the rites of passage one young Swedish boy passes through as it does with the existence of the undead and their feeding practices. Oskar, a 12-year-old boy dealing the problems of verbal and physical bullying and...
Published on 26 May 2009 by Dr.Feelgood

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too grim, bleak and gritty for me
This is a grim (from the social realism point of view) vampire novel set in a working-class area of Stockholm in the early 80s, told from the point of view of 12-year-old Oskar.

Oskar lives with his mother (who's rarely around). His alcoholic father is estranged. He befriends Eli, a child of (apparently) similar age, who lives nearby and is looked after by...
Published 17 months ago by Philtrum


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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A coming-of-age fable - with vampires, 26 May 2009
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This review is from: Let the Right One In (Paperback)
Let The Right One In, the English translation of the novel Låt Den Rätte Komma In by John Ajvide Lindqvist, is a vampire novel that has as much to do with the rites of passage one young Swedish boy passes through as it does with the existence of the undead and their feeding practices. Oskar, a 12-year-old boy dealing the problems of verbal and physical bullying and the consequent incontinence he suffers from, is desperately in need of a friend. He takes refuge in his imagined alter ego - an unafraid Oskar who kills his tormentors - and takes out his anger by stabbing trees in the woods near his home. Then, one night, Eli appears, a girl of the same age who he soon discovers to be a 200-year-old vampire. Meanwhile, a series of strange killings are taking place in the neighbourhood.

The narrative cuts between the lives of Oskar and his blossoming romance with Eli, his teenage acquaintance Tommy, and a group of alcoholics and unemployed semi-drifters who are the victims of the attacks.
The story is, without doubt, riveting - but only really takes flight in the latter half. The author spends the first hundred pages establishing a background, which can often feel sluggish, as the constant cut between narrative voices results in a plot which takes far longer to establish than it should. There are strange ticks in the writing - such as Lindqvist's tendency to italicise all his narrators' fragmented thoughts in a way that is almost artistic but more often irritating - and the author frequently strays into territory regarding Eli's past that leaves explanation or elaboration lacking and ultimately seems unnecessary.

The drive that the story maintains after the inital background compensates for the failed attempts at stylistic prowess. The constant plot twists, the developments in character relationships, and the new treatment of the ancient vampire fable keep the reader hooked. Ultimately a great thriller, but not nearly as art-house as the consequent film adaptation. There are moments of genuine beauty, particularly in the introduction and perfectly rendered conclusion of the text, and Lindqvist's writing is never garden-variety, of course, it just falls short of the stylistic beauty it aims for.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Spin on an Old Genre, 25 Aug 2009
By 
CL Padley (Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Let The Right One In (Paperback)
This is going to be another review I'll have trouble writing because I enjoyed this ... a lot. With all the Twilight/Sookie whatsherface vamp books and writers turning Mr Darcy into the undead creature, it's refreshing to find an author who has managed to take an overused figure and create a truly original story and new take on it.

The plot above doesn't give the book half the credit it's worth. What began as something I found quite slow and hard to get into soon turned into a page turner that I found difficult to put down. While the aforementioned Oskar is our main protagonist, Let the Right One In focuses on how a single person can affect an entire community. From the school teachers to the bullies, from the police officers to the bums on the bar stools, Lindqvist manages to bring realism and depth to every single character featured, no matter how small their role is.

The most interesting aspect to all the characters? None of them are perfect. No-one is a hero. No-one goes out of their way to be likeable. While it may seem bold for an author to do this, I admire this choice as it presents true realism. No human is perfect so why should these characters be? It makes horrible situations that much scarier if we know that these characters are just like us.

Oskar is a great central character who goes through many changes in the book. Starting out as the wimpy kid of the school, getting bullied on a daily basis and forever showing his weaknesses, you can't help but notice the change in his mind as his meetings with Eli increase. Though he's still just a frightened and lonely 11-year-old on the outside, on the inside he's finding the strength through Eli to take charge of the situations and be comfortable with who he is.

A character I adored and would love to see a spin off book based on what happened to him after the events of Let the Right One In is Tommy. Tommy is the 'cool kid' neighbour Oskar looks up to; the rebellious teenager who hands out with his friends, sniffs glue, steals, and makes his mother's life a misery for dating a gun-toting, Christian police officer. I can't speak too much about Tommy's role in this book without giving everything away but let's just say that after the ordeal he goes through, you want to know much more about him. Much, much more. I demand elaboration on this character, Lindqvist!

It's hard to explain what makes this story so different. I think it's the tone Lindqvist uses: a certain Stephen King style, but not. But, as I've said, it's the characters that really make this story what it is. None of them are bland or one-dimensional. There's a real history behind each and every one (and there's quite a few!) and that is how the story manages to carry itself.

This book really takes you through the motions - it's dark but humourous, full of nitty gritty details that'll shock and scare you. One thing I must mention is that if you have a weak stomach, it's probably best you avoid this. Last time something other than illness made me feel queasy was when I went to see Hard Candy (2005) at the cinema. Lindqvist's descriptions of abuse, dismorphia, and supernatural transformation are not for the faint of heart. Like I said, the writing really gets under the skin of the characters so you do not want to be eating lunch while reading this.

It was an amazing read. I'm even looking up the author to see how I can get a hold of any more of his work. Top marks for this one for a fabulous spin on an old genre. Brilliantly written and great third-dimensional characters.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, 14 May 2009
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This review is from: Let the Right One In (Paperback)
This is definitely a read for those of you who like the gritty, shameless horror found in fiction. I can guarantee that if the film based on the novel had adapted straight from it, with no bits left out, people would have ran screaming from the theatre, or it would have been banned in some countries. There are some disturbing themes within the book that will linger in your mind, and you may find yourself experiencing various emotions trying to make sense of them. I did at least. It is gory, but the kind of gory you find in your own nightmares rather than in any traditional horror film. Lindqvist has managed to capture perfectly the feeling of entrapment experienced during one's own bad dreams and those in reality, especially in the context of victimisation within a school environment. Both the real world and that of which you would expect to stem from myths collide in this novel, and they co- exist disastrously. Insanity is also a major theme of 'Let The Right One In', and I do not believe any of the major characters avoid undergoing some form of it one way or another. It is illustrated vividly throughout the different events and experiences of the characters, and is incredibly believable. In other words, it is exactly how you and I would react if we were in the same situation.
The take on vampirism was fresh, with one or two old fashioned views thrown in for good measure. I could not help but feel pity for both Oskar and Eli, each with their own torments and loneliness. They emapthise with each other, even if in some ways their woes and worries are on different levels. The romance and friendship is very innocent, without an overdose of sexuality to depreciate it. Not over sentimental at all.

Finally, all I can say to people considering reading this novel is that the story has definitive meaning to it, and major themes are well balanced out. Forget any other vampiric story, this one is taken fresh from the pantry of imagination.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly heart-warming, 13 Feb 2011
By 
A. L. Rutter "Floor to Ceiling Books" (Portsmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Let the Right One In (Paperback)
John Ajvide Lindqvist takes us to a dark place, a suburbia where disparate characters are thrown into each other's lives and vices are explored. Oskar is a young boy, bullied constantly, dreaming of killing his persecutors. One night he meets the mysterious Eli, and the two children gradually build up a delicate and tenuous friendship. As a backdrop to this, we watch as murders are committed and the people of Blackeberg come to realise that they are haunted by a vampire.

On the face of this, Let The Right One In is a horror story about a vampire - but it does not take long for the reader to recognise that this is, in fact, a story exploring the monstrousness of human beings. The latent urge in all humans to commit monstrous acts. We have alcoholics, drug takers, paedophiles and bullies. In that company, the vampire turns out to be the most compassionate and reasonable character.

The prose is both visceral and staccato, with a deeply tragic air right from the first word. And yet it still manages to evoke a feeling of hope, and establishes that acceptance and friendship can succeed in saving a young man's life.

Despite the aforementioned staccato rhythm, the story unwinds with a slow deliberate menace. It starts with a searing picture of a victim of extreme bullying: "Let them think someone had been killed here, because someone had been killed here. And for the hundredth time..." Gradually the story presents us with some grisly pictures of a man with his face burned away by acid, blood pouring from every pore of a vampire, cats attacking a woman. And yet it is still those shocking moments of human cruelty that strike the hardest and make you vulnerable to the power of this book's prose.

It is a grey, dark and unremittingly grim novel that has a great deal to say on the true nature of the beast. One line really leapt out for me as an illustration of what this novel is truly about: "All these pathetic lonely people in a world without beauty."

With all of the above said, I should comment on the fact that Let The Right One In also had me quaking as I read it at night in an empty house. It is deeply scary and some scenes will stay with me for long after this last page has been closed.

The characters, as a whole, were not people you would generally root for, but the warm heart of the film is Eli - yes, a vampire, but a character that is confused, overwhelmed, loving, desperate, and with a strong sense of being unnatural. Eli holds the novel together, especially the elusive friendship with Oskar - the gentle growth of trust, the giving of self-confidence, the childish games and puzzles, the laughter. Within this novel, that makes a very warm heart indeed.

In my opinion, this is a hard book to love, but I have a great deal of respect for it. I will remember it for a long, long time. It is well-crafted and beautifully-written. It is dark and grim. But above all it is a memorable treatise on the monsters amongst us. Both riveting and compelling - this is one book you just can't look away from.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Knows how to tell a story!, 4 Oct 2009
This review is from: Let the Right One In (Paperback)
It was a long time since I read a book that I just couldn't put down, a book I kept longing for when I was doing something else. So the author has really succeeded in the way he tells the story.

I like the realistic description of the Stockholm suburb Blackeberg and the social realism of the characters. I also accept the element of vampires as it's described in a natural way.

Basically a vampire moves to Blackeberg and a lot of people are found dead in mysterious ways. The main character Oskar who is bullied at school makes friend with the vampire and gets his revenge on the bullies.

What I like the most is that we get to follow so many different characters and that they are all connected and make a difference to the story. Everyone and everything is there for a reason. The story is very well threaded together.

I've given it five stars, yet there are a few things that annoy me:
*when Eli sleeps in Oskar's bed there's no sexual tension whatsoever even if Eli's naked and it's strange that Oskar doesn't discover a certain thing ...
*sometimes the author changes POV within a scene, it would've been better to be in one character's head at a time
*I'd wanted more of a follow up on the relationship between Tommy and his police stepdad to be

I read the novel in Swedish and am now going to have a look at the English translation to see how the translator has dealt with some typical Swedish references!
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45 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let the right one in, let the old dreams die..., 11 April 2009
This review is from: Let the Right One In (Paperback)
Let the right one in caught my attention because a film based on this book did win several awards and is now considered one of the best vampire movies of the past decades. So, before watching the film, I decided to read the book and I must say it took me by surprise.

The story is centered on the 12-year-old Oskar, a lonely kid who finds the perfect companion, a 12 girl who has recently moved next-door and turns out to be a vampire. But this is much more than your typical vampire story. It's a beautiful and disturbing tale describing the love, loneliness and violent reality of its characters. Also, as strange as it may sound, it feels very real and has some creepy moments that really stay in your mind.

I strongly suggest that you read this book and then see the original Swedish film (because there is an American remake on the way).
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your mainstream Vampire novel, 17 Jan 2010
This review is from: Let the Right One In (Paperback)
Story of unusual friendship between a bullied boy and vampire child set in the bleak suburbs of Stockholm.

Now, I usually try to read any good books, before seeing the movies made from them, as the movies usually are worse than the books. But in this case, I saw the film, without really knowing that there actually was a literary masterpiece behind in. And this actually did work out pretty well, since the movie is good and can stand on it's own. Easily one of the best films of recent years (and by far the best vampire movie in recent years). Reading the book after the film really added to the story by giving more background and depth to the characters.

The book touches on many subjects a twelve year old boy might encounter, being bullied, alcoholism in the family, boredom, rebellion against authority etc. And how a little boy might try to deal with these kinds of issues.

The main character, Oscar, is fairly typical school boy who is bullied and doesn't have many friends. As he tries to struggle on with his life, he meets a peculiar young girl, Eli. The two become friends as they help and comfort each other. But little by little Oscar starts to realize that Eli isn't a girl, she's a vampire. It's a story of friendship, as they both struggle with this new situation and feelings they haven't felt before.

Beautifully written, paints a bleak landscape of living in the Swedish suburbs, where there really doesn't seem to be much worth going on.

There is some horror yes, but I'm not sure if I would fully qualify this as a horror book. Maybe coming of age / vampire novel with some horror in it.

Highly recommended (especially if you're into vampires).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly written, 15 Jun 2009
By 
S. Slottje (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Let the Right One In (Paperback)
This is a beautifully written tale, both tender and horrific. It gives not so much a new twist to an old legend as a wonderful, picturesque retelling of it, with well-rounded characters. Even the most abominable individual seems to have been lovingly brought to life.
The only thing letting the book down is some infrequent sloppy editing, where part of a scene is written in present tense. This may be due to the work having been translated.
Whether you are into gothic romance or down-and-dirty horror this is an excellent read.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A truly mesmerising read, 18 Mar 2008
By 
J. Potter "johniebg" (Berkshire, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Let The Right One In (Paperback)
Before I go onto the gushing part of this review I feel some perspective is called for. So I will start by telling you what this book isn't, for me at least. For a start it wasn't anything like any Stephen King novel I ever read, despite claims that it is. It really is a different type of story and to compare in that way does this an injustice. Nor did I find it horrifying or scary. But I don't think that was probably the authors intention.

What this IS: A wonderfully observed coming of age tale centred around young Oskar, a bullied boy on the verge of adolescence who wets himself and shoplifts for therapy. The beauty is in the friendship he strikes up with Eli: the girl living next door - who just happens to be a 200 year old vampire stuck in a twelve year old girls body.

The creation of these two young and desperately lonely children, and their attempts to just get through each day given the challenges of their individual lives. Is the absolute strength of this. Their emerging friendship and Oskars coming of age, given these obstacles, especially Eli's condition, is absolutely mesmerising. Keeping me transfixed through every page over one weekend, and there are over 500 here.

There are a whole bunch of peripheral characters, the local drunks, parents, sex offenders, the bullies and the kids living on the same estate. All are vivid but at no time do you ever feel like they are anything other than mechanisms to hook the stories of Oskar and Eli. Hooks that worked brilliantly because all we are really interested in is Oskhar and Eli.

PROS: An absolutely wonderful tale of two young children, one a boy coming of age, the other a twelve year girl who also happens to be a powerful vampire. Utterly engaging, with an amazing end that is built up from almost the first page and the books title. The technical detail of a vampires biology was very imaginative.

CONS: The story of Hakan slips into parody. I was not sure whether this was intended as a homage to the classic books that exist in this genre. Or a slightly clumsy mechanism with which to manufacture a specific moment towards the end. Either way it didn't quite sit with the quality of the rest. There is also a big twist two thirds of the way, the purpose of which will only be known to the author. It didn't entirely work for me.

Summary: Not the next Stephen King, that does both authors an injustice. This is a wonderfully fresh and original coming of age story premised around a genre you might have thought had been done to death. Very highly recommended.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Quirky and original, 7 April 2009
By 
D. P. Mankin (Ceredigion, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Let the Right One In (Paperback)
I have only ever read three horror novels, two of which became too boring to finish (lumpen prose, clunky dialogue etc). As with one of the other reviewers I wouldn't classify this as horror, rather it is more of a fable that is set against the underbelly of Swedish society. The setting is a 'sink' estate and at the core of the novel is a highly unusual relationship between a boy and a girl (I'll say no more than this). The writing is crisp and fluent, and the story unfolds at a satisfying pace. The injection of Scandanvian humour gives the novel a sardonic edge. Highly readable, this is a very orginal take on vampires that focuses on human failings and the power of friendship.
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Let the Right One In
Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Paperback - 22 Jan 2009)
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