Let the Right One in Paperback
Oskar and Eli. In very different ways, they were both victims. Which is why, against the odds, they became friends. And how they came to depend on one another, for life itself.
Oskar is a 12-year-old boy living with his mother on a dreary housing estate at the city's edge.
He dreams about his absentee father, gets bullied at school, and wets himself when he's frightened.
Eli is the young girl who moves in next door. She doesn't go to school and never leaves the flat by day.
She is a 200-year-old vampire, forever frozen in childhood, and condemned to live on a diet of fresh blood.
John Ajvide Lindqvist's novel is a unique and brilliant fusion of social novel and vampire legend, a deeply moving fable about rejection, friendship and loyalty.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 528 pages
- Publisher: Quercus Publishing
- Publication Date: 22/01/2009
- Category: Horror & ghost stories
- ISBN: 9781847248480
Showing 1 - 5 of 8 reviews.
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Review by clfisha
Oskar is 12 Swedish boy, horribly bullied at school, with no one to turn to. But then one evening he meets Eli, a young girl who smells odd and doesn't get cold, someone who can give him courage.Well I recently saw the film and was so impressed I rushed out to buy the book and thankfully it holds up well. Ok I admit I prefer the more simplistic and in a way more subtle film but I still highly recommend this book. To me its success hinges on our ability to empathise with the characters. They are portrayed so well it becomes easy to understand the relationship between Oskar and Eli but also the horror and despair of other characters (no name no spoilers!). The loneliness and yearning really grab you and you are comforted and horrified in turns. The pace is good, tension builds gradually to become edge of your seat stuff (this is not a fast paced action thriller). But it has some problems, a (spoiler free) one being I was annoyed by the underdeveloped slightly pathetic character of Oscars mother (yes I know all the adults were pretty useless but still..). Anyway I recommend this book not just for the horror but for anyone who likes a fine, dark & moving tale.
Review by gaskella
I've read a few vampire books recently - they have all been rather cosy or had a good sense of humour. But then they've been mostly aimed at teens and young adults. Then I came to the Nordic vampire novel Let the Right One In, and found something truly dark and horrific that needed a strong stomach and nerves of steel. It is a real contemporary chiller, full of violence and gore, totally relentless - yet at its heart is a the redemptive relationship between a twelve year old boy and a 200 year old vampire frozen into the body of a young girl.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...G.O.I.N.G. O.U.T.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!
Review by deargreenplace
On the surface, Let The Right One In is a Swedish vampire book set in the 1980s, and it was made into a successful indie film in 2009.In fact, the book is less about vampires and more about how lonely Oskar and Eli find each other. I will warn you upfront that readers of a sensitive disposition are going to require a strong stomach to cope with the themes of this book.Oskar is about to become a teenager, and he lives with his mother. His parents separated when he was younger. Unpopular at school, Oskar has to cope daily with bullying by other boys in his class, but at home he likes the music of Kiss, figuring out his new Rubik's cube (an imitation of the original) and he keeps a scrapbook of clippings about local murders. He is a solitary boy who lives in his own head a lot of the time.When Eli, a pretty girl around his age, moves into the same apartment block as Oskar, the two become friends even though Oskar notices some strange things about Eli. She doesn't feel the cold and he only sees her at night time. The windows of the apartment that she shares with Hakan (a man Oskar believes to be Eli's father) are blocked by blankets so that the light doesn't get in. She never seems to eat, and she doesn't go to school, but she appears to need a friend as much as Oskar does.Eli and Hakan are not related. They depend on each other - in different ways. Eli needs Hakan in order to live. He acquires blood for her by killing people. In return, Hakan gets to be with Eli to satisfy his infatuation with her. Each holds a certain amount of power over the other, and we question whether Eli's interest in Oskar is simply a way of escaping from Hakan.The descriptions of Hakan's desire for young children will no doubt be difficult for some readers, and I am not going to pass judgment on it. It is Hakan's motivation for devoting himself to keeping Eli alive, and it leads to a turn in the plot that changes their situation. It definitely isn't pleasant to read.It's no surprise to me that the film version of the book focuses instead on Oskar and Eli, and it is their story that is the focus in both. Can they accept and trust each other, knowing what they know?
Review by BeeQuiet
A horror book, containing vampires. Sounds dreadfully cliché, doesn't it? I thought so, until it was recommended by someone whose taste I really trust. Take it from me, this is a tale concerning bullying, being let down by everyone (especially your family) and yet finding a true friend. It's beautiful. And it's a well executed, truly horrific horror...with a vampire.
Review by AdonisGuilfoyle
I've been reading so many trashy vampire novels recently that Librarything and Kindle are now recommending more of the same, so when <i>Let The Right One In</i> came up, and I recognised the title from the recent film adaptation, how could I refuse? Based on the lyrics of a Smiths song, which should provide a helpful clue as to the mood of the book, <i>Let the Right One In</i> is part teenage angst, part horror novel. The reviews on the Kindle edition all tag John Ajvide Lindqvist as 'the new Stephen King', which I personally didn't find encouraging, but the similarities are there - small towns, the dark side of growing up, and the unexplained in an ordinary setting. Only instead of 1970s America, the story is transplanted to 1980s Sweden, and Lindqvist is a lot darker than King, whose novels tend to be structured like modern day folktales or ghost stories. Lindqvist delivers a sharp slice of real life - the bullying and isolation of schoolboy Oskar Erikson - and injects an element of the supernatural into that pain and loneliness. Sounds like a Smiths song already! Then Oskar meets Eli, a young girl who moves into the flat next door with her father, and the two strike up an unlikely friendship, communicating by tapping out Morse code on the wall between their bedrooms. But there is something strange about Eli, who can only come out at night, and must be invited before she can come inside.I found Lindqvist's style incredibly easy to read, but not patronising and with fewer infodumps than King, if the comparison must be made. Lindqvist handles the vampire mythos well, focusing on an honest conversation between Oskar and Eli, and the firsthand experiences of a woman who is 'turned' after being fed upon. The horror element builds in gore and diminishes in credibility with the pacing of the plot - I felt that Hakan was more of a special effects device to be exploited in the film - but the human heart of the story remains strong throughout. Oskar, Lacke, Virginia and even Eli are all sympathetic characters with believable histories, a handful of life's losers who are tested by the incredible events of three weeks in late 1981. The narrative is also rich with vivid descriptions and sharp observations - Lindqvist captures experiences and sensations familiar to all of us, but which are so surprising when imagined from someone else's words, like the 'sharp cold arc from the stomach to the head' of anger, and the powerful, uncontrollable spasms of grief. Vampire bloodlust aside, I really enjoyed reading this novel and letting my imagination run wild - droll, disturbing and depressing!
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