BOOK: Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

lettherightoneinbookI saw the film based on this book a few months ago and was absolutely blown away by it. After reading my review, several people wrote to tell me that the book the film was based on, by John Ajvide Lindqvist, was a must-read — that it was even darker than the film and provided a lot more insight into both the main characters.

At first, I wasn’t really sure I wanted to read it. I dithered a bit because Let the Right One In (the movie) is one of the most completely perfect things I have ever seen on screen, and the idea of trying to add something more to the story that was told there — I just didn’t think I needed to. Or wanted to. Besides, what if instead of adding to it, it just ended up taking away? That would suck.

But, when I needed a long book for a long weekend in early July, I picked up a copy and decided to give it a shot. As it turns out, everybody was right — the novel is great, although in a very different way from the film. (For a plot description, by the way, see the movie review.) It’s definitely darker — especially the parts that involve Eli and her “handler,” a relationship far more sexual in the book than it was in the film. And there is also more violence in general, bloodier and more brutal than the similar scenes in the movie (which is not terribly graphic, actually, something I found refreshing).

Though I found the novel a bit draggy in a few places (it needed to be about 100 pages shorter, for one thing), I absolutely loved the fact it really let me  get to know Oskar.  The story is told from Oskar’s perspective, and his feelings about himself and, eventually, Eli, are among the most moving things I have ever read, especially when it comes to stories driven by children.  This passage towards the end really summed it up for me:

For a few seconds, Oskar saw through Eli’s eyes.  And what he saw was himself.  Only much better, more handsome, stronger than what he thought of himself.  Seen with love.

For a few seconds.

It may not be the most original concept — that being loved boosts your self-esteem.  But from a kid?  From a kid, it got to me.  Oskar is picked on, bullied, and ignored, and he suffers from humiliating incontinence and unbearable shame for no good reason.  Watching him unfold after years of staying as curled up as possible — it is a beautiful thing.

Brilliant. Both the book and the movie. Utterly brilliant. And if you’re finally intrigued enough to want to experience this story, I definitely recommend that you watch the film before you read the book. I think if you do it the other way, you’ll have a hard time watching the movie without noticing what’s missing, and you shouldn’t be thinking about that. Instead, appreciate the film for its own singular awesomeness, and then read the book to extend the experience. Highly, HIGHLY recommended.


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4 Responses to “BOOK: Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist”

  1. Liz Says:

    Maybe the book is the answer for me, since I probably couldn’t deal with the movie (specifically, the – ick – subtitles) very well. The story does sound awfully good!

  2. paperback writer Says:

    I’m so glad you read the book!!! I couldn’t put it down after I got through the first 50 pages and my husband couldn’t understand why until he got through the first 50 pages. But yes, dark, dark, dark.

    And it makes me want to see the movie.

  3. adam Says:

    i have read chapter one to See what its like and it is gripping
    i will get the book but
    got confused with oskar bits towards the end
    but i will see in 2 weeks

    loved the film loved the soundtrack think I’m gonna love the book
    i am hooked on it

  4. thejamminjabber Says:

    Loved the film, loved the book even more. I don’t think it dragged at all.

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