Book Review: Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

cover for let the right one in
© St. Martin’s Griffin, 2010.


“Set in 1981, Let Me In is the horrific tale of Oskar and Eli. It begins with the grisly discovery of the body of a teenage boy, emptied of blood. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last — revenge for all the bad things the bullies at school do to him, day after day. While Oskar is fascinated by the murder, it is not the most important thing in his life. 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. They become friends. Then something more. But there is something wrong with her, something odd. And she only comes out at night. . . .” (Source: Goodreads)


Several years ago, I had the pleasure (I think?) of watching the American remake of the film, Let the Right One In, which was titled Let Me In. I don’t remember any of it -only that I had found it interesting at the time. Undoubtedly, it had something to do with the fact that, during those years, I had an obsession with vampires. In fact, I gobbled up the Twilight books around then, and yes I am ashamed to admit that. Let the Right One In never crossed my mind again after that, until I received a box of books for free and found a copy of the Thomas Dunne Books translation inside it. Remembering the movie vaguely, and knowing the original version is among my boyfriend’s favorite films, I decided to give it a read and, once again, I am not in the least bit disappointed. I’m not sure if it’s a difference in what Americans find to be taboo in comparison to Swedish folk or what, but between John Ajvide Lindqvist and Stieg Larsson, I think I’m ready to delve deeper into Scandinavian novels!

Lindqvist has created for readers a completely deplorable cast of characters, ranging from Eli, the child, to her caretaker, Håkan Bengtsson. These characters aren’t hate-worthy in the same manner as Gone Girl‘s Amy Dunne, but rather in the way that they simply are. I won’t go too much into the details behind why I find the cast of this book to be unsavory, because I feel that just about anything I could say about the characters would, in one form or another, spoil the book; these characters and their flaws, which are bountiful, provide the book with so many unexpected twists and turns that just about anything that could be said might reveal something vital to the plot. Except for my favorite character, which, oddly enough, is Gösta. This may or may not have something to do with the fact that, like Gösta, I adore cats and it is extremely difficult for me to not want to take a stray in. (My boyfriend and I have too many, and I love them more than the entire world!)

The plot takes place over the course of about three weeks, beginning near the last week of October and ending on Friday, November 13. For a book of about five-hundred pages, that’s quite a few days to cover and often, that expanse of time, when it is written as detailed as Lindqvist has penned it, can seem like it simply drags on – that is not the case here. As I read, it felt more like a few days than several weeks, largely because the plot is fast paced and constantly moving. Because there isn’t a lot of exposition, there isn’t really much to slow the story down. Told from alternating perspectives, readers are given several different points of view of what’s going on, and from there it is relatively easy to come to your own conclusions regarding the story’s events as well as the behaviors of the various characters. Those I loathed, others might feel pity for, and vice versa.

Let the Right One In is a vampire novel, as I’ve alluded to earlier in this review; however, Lindqvist does not approach the idea of vampires in the same method that many books do presently. These are not romanticized vampires, but rather monsters. Horrible, bloodthirsty creatures that will rip out your throat, not sparkle – that’s what Lindqvist’s vampires are. This fact alone scores extra points with me, because I prefer vampires as the terrors they are meant to be, rather than the glorified, dark lovers that plague most contemporary literature.

My only gripe with this translation of Let the Right One In deals largely with its flow. While the story itself is excellent and the characters dynamic, the translation seemed to be a bit on the rough side. I do not speak Swedish. If I did, I wouldn’t have a use for the translated version of the story. That said, I know absolutely nothing of the language. Given that my major is in Creative Writing and that I have taken Linguistic courses, I do know that some languages have no tense – at least, not in the way that those of us that speak English view it. That said, there are many times in the translation that I was reading where the tense seemed to switch randomly, and I do not know if this was intentional or not. It was not an issue that I encountered while reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo though, so it’s a bit hard for me to be forgiving about it.

This book was definitely worth the read, and I’m hoping that I’ll get a chance to watch the original film adaptation in the future – my boyfriend might have it, actually. I should check!

Rating: 💀💀💀💀

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