Book Review: Let Me In

 

author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
published: 2004
languages: English (originally Swedish)
pages: 480
genre: Vampire Fiction 

book summary: The story centers around the relationship of a boy named Oskar and a century-old vampire named Eli.

Let Me In/Let the Right One In/Låt den rätte komma in was a bone-chilling dark romantic drama. The love story (if you can call it that) between Eli/Abby and Oskar/Owen is what drew me to the story in the first place. I fell for their story, which is so pure and innocent because a century old vampire finally found a match in another lost soul who completely gets it.

The movies paint a beautiful story, filled with bullying, abuse, and the psychological toll bad days take on people. The original story is all that and much darker material. The best thing that happens in the book is we get a very descriptive back story of Eli and how it became a bloodthirsty vampire. 

Let the Right One In/Låt den rätte komma in

Eli (Lina Leandersson) och Oskar (Kåre Hedebrant)

Other moments in the book that the writers of the films stayed away is the incest love of Eli’s caretaker Hakan, the rape scene between the two, and the constant sexual thoughts of a dirty old man. John Ajvide Lindqvist didn’t hold back on the descriptive nature of those topics, which included Eli’s castration (which she telepathy shares with Oskar) over a century ago. 

Those moments turned this gripping novel into a very slow read. The movie glances over these topics (for obvious reasons) and that is probably why I love both. It is the clean version of young love. Not a blood tainted version of perverted people who have wild thoughts and ambitions.

If you’ve seen either movie, you’ll come to find one of the innocent people attacked by Eli/Abby is named Virginia. Well this book is 480 pages long and I would say that 50 pages of writing are devoted to Virginia, her friends (victims themselves), and her love interest Lacke. This part of the overall story drove me crazy because I just didn’t care about these characters. There’s another boy named Tommy who spends the whole book doing whatever he can to piss people off and do drugs. He’s barely mentioned in either film, yet plays a crucial role in how Eli breaks free from Hakan. Speaking of Hakan, this is not a zombie book, this is a book about vampires. The way his character survives through the whole book could drive even the most patient person insane. Trust me when I say the films gave this entire story a more polish version, one that entertains and brings different emotions out of you. I get that Lundqvist dragged out minor stories to fill pages, but I read this book to get a deeper story about Eli and Oskar, not everyone else who lives in Sweden. 

It was a lot of fun to see more of the story from Oskar’s point of view. In the book, after learning his best friend is a vampire and comes in contact with her, he’s afraid to turn into a bloodsucker himself, which was pretty amusing. It digs deeper into his fractured home life, how bad his relationship was with his dad, and how weak he was every time he got bullied. There’s one part where Oskar is hung over the train tracks as a train is coming at full speed, but is yanked away at the last second. That would have made for an epic sequence on film but would say that was one of the more clever ways to scare someone to death. I liked how ambitious he was to collect all the newspapers of the Blackberg (Sweden) killer. He is a clever boy who has experienced more than any 12-year-olds should ever experience in a lifetime.  

Let Me In Owen (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and Abby (Chloë Grace Moretz)

Eli and Oskar are the heart of this Shakespearean themed drama. There are so many extra characters thrown in with their own troubles and stories, I’m glad the movies cut a majority of that stuff out and focused on the important stuff. People always say that the book is better than the movie, but I don’t feel like this applies with Let Me In. Nothing in this book could ever taint my thoughts of the movies, so I was a little disappointed with how the book turned out. It may fill in all the gaps from the movie, but I was happy with the simplified version of the story. 5/10 

(I went to see Let Me In on October 6, 2010, I know this because I still have the ticket stub. After watching the movie I went straight to the bookstore to buy the novel. It only took me eight years to finally sit down and read it)

 

 

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