Let The Right One In
(Let Me In – American Version)
by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Summary: It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy 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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Source: I purchased a paperback at a used bookstore.
I snagged this at a used bookstore when I didn’t have enough cash and I had to go over a certain amount to use my debit card. This book put me over the $5 minimum and I was on the fence about it. I’d seen the American movie Let Me In and remembered that I enjoyed it and thought it was pretty weird and creepy. I figured the book would be mildly enjoyable like the movie, but it’s a Swedish translation and, for some strange reason, I just have terrible luck with enjoying Swedish translations of books!
Side Note: I’m mildly annoyed at the title change. Why does it have to be different? It seems like a useless change that only serves to make me wonder if I was reading the right book. I suppose I’ll use Let Me In as that was the version I had and it’s less words to type.
Let Me In was the disturbing horror novel set in a suburban area of Sweden in this apartment complex. Oskar was a bullied kid with an oblivious, yet overprotective mother. He noticed a strange girl in the complex who happened the move next door and the two of them sort of hit it off. (This is the basic plot of the movie, as well, and I was familiar with where the story would be going.) As far as the surface plot goes, the movie Let Me In stayed faithful to the story. However, I was not expecting the book to go so much further into the depths of the characters and what motivated them and I think those details were what made the story so unbelievably horrifying. The movie was violent and definitely weird, but to imagine that the story could be even more screwed up and twisted was something I hadn’t thought to do. The movie is an extremely watered down version of this twisted horror.
Oskar was kind of a psychopath. He was a weird kid and he was definitely being bullied pretty badly at school. I started to feel bad for him, but then more of his character was revealed. He fantasized about hurting the people who were bullying him. And not in the way that I found typical, in that he wanted to embarrass them or get back at them. He seemed to go a few steps further and genuinely wish them harm and pain, imagining slicing them up. He didn’t befriend some weird girl who happened to be a vampire because she was weird, too. I think perhaps the two were kindred spirits, both violent, timid, and horrifying.
I’m not sure why, in the movie, I assumed the old man who took care of the vampire girl, Eli, was someone she had been with since he was little. I remember thinking that if Oskar chose to accept the girl and go off with her, he would be in the old man’s position later in life. However, the book explained Hakan’s character much more in depth. He hadn’t been with Eli since he was also 12ish. He met her much later in his life. He was a pedophile who basically took care of Eli in hopes that he would be able to spend time with her, touch her, and love her. And when he was off killing people to get blood for her, he spent an awful lot of time leering at little kids. I think this detail left me feeling more creeped out than the idea of Eli drinking blood.
These two details/changes/insights were just a few of the many screwed up issues some of the characters had. Let Me In is a horror novel involving vampires and it even deals with vampire violence and the turning of innocent people into vampires, but it’s unlike any other vampire horror I’ve read because the true horrors are the humans walking around everyday.
Let Me In is NOT a horror novel for the easily disgusted, offended, or scared. It’s slow, a bit long, and I was pulled from the story a few times because something always gets lost in translations for me, despite this one being very well done. I suppose I just couldn’t always keep track of and remain interested in all of the side characters all of the time. However, I highly recommend it and I understand why it is so highly rated as a horror novel.
Labels: Creeptober, horror, Review, suspense, Vampire