The prose here is often breathtaking, but the plot is relatively dull and meandering. Totally worth reading for the quality of writing, but the story itself feels a bit empty -- developing characters that often seem to go nowhere.
I'll give it a fourth star just for the inventive wordplay and solid narration, but the storytelling falls flat.
This Swedish vampire story is very much a literary descendant of Stephen King. It's a human drama with a variety of people in the gritty middle and lower class margins, working out their issues, often with drugs, sex, and violence, but to this the author adds a supernatural ingredient, and which means the violence will eventually be amped up to the climactic bloodbath you know is coming.
The author begins by describing the neighborhood in which the story is set — a completely nondescript Swedish suburb notable for the fact that it was built only a couple of decades ago in what was once bare forest, which means it has no history and nothing of note to make the place interesting. They don't even have churches,
Oskar, the lonely child of an overprotective single mother, is the stereotypical chubby, nerdy bully-bait who gets picked on at school and spends his lonely life head down, scuttling from class to home, hoping if he rolls over and shows his belly quickly enough, his tormentors won't hurt him too badly.
We see this a lot in Stephen King stories, from It to Carrie. The outcast kid who gets hooked up to something dark and scary and unleashes hell on his persecutors is a staple of horror fiction. The reason this trope is so appealing to so many horror fans is probably obvious, but because it is such a well-worn trope, and because Stephen King pretty owns it, it's hard for me to warm up to persecuted little runts like Oskar, who I always find myself wishing would stick up for themselves before the vampire comes along.
But Lindqvist has King's talent for making characters who are more than just roles in a vampire story. Eli, the little girl vampire who befriends Oskar, is not a supernatural horror, just a confused immortal who doesn't really know much more about her origins than she says. She is very convincing as a creature that is at once very old and weary and jaded, and yet still the twelve-year-old she appears to be inside. The friendship she develops with Oskar, over a Rubik's cube, is one of two kids engaging in silly, juvenile confidences and games, and yet, as Oskar observes perceptively, for Eli much of it is trying on a new role she is unfamiliar with, from behind a mask of many years of experience and exposure to a grim, dark life that Oskar can't even imagine.
Let the Right One In does not add much to vampire lore, and that's for the better, as Lindqvist isn't trying to reinvent vampires here. Eli is what she is (except later in the book, we do learn that she is both more and less than she appears). And as Oskar's friendship with her develops, so does his confidence, leading to him standing up to the bullies who've been picking on him, leading to a series of increasingly violent confrontations that predictably lead to Eli eventually getting involved, and we know that's not going to be pretty.
This is a violent book, as befits a vampire tale. It also has lots of visceral grossness, bodily fluids, and pedophilia. It's for genuine horror fans and makes my short list of good vampire stories. I could also observe that it is as much a story about childhood friendship, bullying, the emptiness of modern life, and the existential horror of adolescence, as it is about vampires. But basically it's about a vampire making friends with a bullied kid, and people dying gorily.
I loved Eli. Seldom have I met a character who was as ambiguous as Eli is. Eli is complex in unexpected ways and serves (at least for me) as the heart of the story as it is Eli that truly drives many elements and weaves them together.
My favorite scene had to be where Eli was revealed as Vampire to Oscar.
I picked up this book because I saw the movie, but the book has way too much detail and it seemed to me like the author is obsessing over sickening details.
I really felt like Oskar and Eli were interesting and fascinating characters and both are well drawn.
I can't think of any book like this one.
He did a decent job. I can't remember anything specific but at the end of the day I stayed in the book and wasn't taken out of it by anything he did or did not do.
None of them. I'd be more likely to do therapy with them!
Do you read the book before you dislike my reviews?
After watching the American version of the movie, I really wanted to read the book. It's been on the back burner for a while and I finally broke down and purchased the title. This is not my first introduction of this author. I have read, "Handling the Undead", which was good, but "Let Me In" is what I was waiting for to become a fan of his writing.
Unlike the typical horror story, Lindqvist writes at if it's almost like a dark drama, love story, but without the tween saga. The thriller will gripe you in, where you can't stop turning the pages, or in my case, couldn't stop listening. I usually don't read the book after watching the movie, but in this case, I just knew that the book would be excellent.
This is one of my favorite reads in a while simply because the author could had wrote this book to please teen pop culture, with yucky vampire love and your typical fairy tale, but he didn't. Lindqvist used his own twisted imagination, where the puppy love between the vampire girl and the boy, is not the center point of the plot, but it's a background drop of the story.
After reading this book, one can understand mature writing versus adolescent puberty materials, from the same vampire genre.
The cat scene is awesome. I just wished that it was written in the movie also.
Overall engaging story and solid performance from Steven Pacey.
It was not the best book I've heard or read but for what it was, it was very interesting and fun to listen to.
i don't agree that it wasn't fast paced enough... i enjoyed the additional character development... now i'm going to go watch the movie again... but after this, my mind is made up... gonna skip the US version of the movie...
wish they hadn't used the "let me in" title over "let the right one in"...
It took me a while to get through this book, but after the half-way mark, I was hooked. It was very scary and I loved this take on the vampire lore. I literally ran to my house and fumbled with the lock after listening to a particularly scary part on my drive home late one night. I will definitely recommend it to friends, and now I can't wait to see both movies. I have heard that the Swedish film is the best. And I do believe that the Swedish backdrop is a very important character in the novel, so I'll be interested to see the American take.
My only issue is with the disturbing descriptions regarding child prostitution at the beginning of the novel. I think that could have been left out and the story would have been fine. And for those who haven't read it - it's more disturbing that "graphic"...which any conversation about child prostitution and pedophiles should be considered disturbing because it is wrong. Don't let this deter you from reading this otherwise excellent novel.