Title: “Let the Right One In”
Author: John Ajvide Lindqvist
Pages (hardcover): 472 pages
Original Publishing Date: May 2004 (originally published in Sweden)
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
“Let the Right One In Takes Top Honors at Tribeca Film Festival!
“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.
“Sweeping top honors at film festivals all over the globe, director Tomas Alfredsson’s film of Let the Right One In has received the same kind of spectacular raves that have been lavished on the book. American readers of vampire fiction will be thrilled!”
Trigger/Content warnings for the novel:
- ableism (including use of the R-slur)
- biological essentialism
- attempted rape
Representation in the novel:
I’m…really confused and conflicted about my feelings towards this book.
Let the Right One In takes place in 1981 Sweden, following a 12-year-old boy Oskar, who is obsessed with the murders that are happening around his town. However, he’s also interested in the strange girl who recently moved in next to him. While this book mostly focuses on the two of them, there are also other subplots that eventually connect, including a group of alcoholics, a delinquent kid, and a pedophile.
Yes, there’s a pedophile character, and he plays a prominent role in this book. And there are times it’s told from his perspective, so huge trigger/content warning for that.
To me, this was less of a plot-driven book focused on vampires than it was a character study. And there are many. Many. Characters. While I got a bit bored plot wise, because it really doesn’t pick up until three quarters of the way through the novel, I was somehow still invested in some of the characters, especially the alcoholic with all the cats and Tommy, the delinquent kid.
However, what I really wasn’t ready for was the pedophile. The pedophile that has a prominent narrative in about the first half of the novel, where the reader gets all deep and personal with his thoughts. And I get it. I do. It’s to show that everyone in this book is morally grey, bad, or at least not completely “good.” But uhhh, was it necessary? I don’t know. All I know is that it creeped me out.
A lot of this book kinda creeped me out, and not in the normal horror “oh, it’s scary” way. More of a “wow, people fucking suck, huh?” kinda way. I dunno, this might just be me ranting a bit (this whole review is kind of disorganized, tbh), but this book was dark and grim, and it was due to the human (or, human at the time) characters.
Oh, but there was one part that didn’t creep me out and that I found to be enjoyable, if not a bit odd: within the last third of the book or so, there’s a section from the point of view of a squirrel! It comes completely out of nowhere, but I still love it.
Yeah, this review is kinda all over the place and not that long because…the book itself didn’t really have a lot going on? But it was still all over the place? There was focus on so many different characters, and it seemed a bit disorienting at times, especially with how it lined up with the rest of the plot/timeline. But I still gave it 3 stars because I do enjoy character studies/character-driven books, and I believe this book to be one.
But, uh, yeah. Still wasn’t prepared for the pedophile.