Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist



So I picked up this book with the impression that it was going to be about vampires. A little girl vampire and a boy of the same age. I thought maybe there would be some romance, action, maybe even some violence. I did not expect this book to be as depressing, scary, disturbing, sick, oh and did I say disturbing?

I’d heard of the films, the  (Let the Right One In) Swedish and then the English version, and I guess maybe I should have read up on it a little more and not assumed I knew what it was going to be about.

If I could describe my feelings while reading this book in one word it would be dread—an immense feeling of dread. Like you knew nothing good was going to happen, as early as the first few chapters. The book is told by multiple points of view, one of them being a pedophile. If I never read about the way a pedo sees a young child ever again in my life, it will be too soon. I almost stopped reading when I got to the part of the book where the pedo (book name Hakan) goes into the library where he buys the company of a young boy, who conveniently has no teeth. Yes a teenage prostitute with no teeth. Commence shuddering and dry heaving now.

The switching between characters in the book is done seamlessly. (I’ve read a few books where it just left me confused) The main character is Oskar, a 12-year-old boy with an alcoholic father and a working mother, who happens to be the victim of serious bullying in school. One day a girl named Eli moves in next door. She only comes out at night and seems older then her 12 years. She lives in a building next to his, with who Oskar assumes is her father—but it’s Hakan the pedophile.  Obviously Hakan has no kids and he isn’t living with her to provide a loving and stable home life. As Oskar and Eli become friends, people start dying in their town and Oskar starts to think his strange friend may have something to do with it.

The other characters in the book are all connected throughout the story, as the hunt for whoever is committing these murders grips the town.Weird enough there isn’t really one redeeming character among them (except Oskar and maybe Virginia). That was another difficult thing about reading this book, everyone was just so unlikeable.

I don’t really know how to rate this book. In terms of enjoyment I can’t say that I did —but it was one of those books that kept my attention and that I didn’t want to put down. It held me at the edge of my chair, in fear of what was to come. It just grossed me out, it irked me, it made me read about things I probably never wanted to know. But it was written very well, the plot wasn’t too predictable and again there was Oskar the one character you really want to root for.

The story ends rather open ended as well, so the reader can decide what they think happens to little Oskar and Eli. At first when I finished it, I wished their was  a more solid conclusion. Then I thought at least in my version, they live if not happy ever after—happier ever after.

I read up a bit on the movie version and apparently Hakan isn’t a pedophile in it and I’m not surprised. The entire time I was reading I was thinking to myself, ‘How the hell are they going to put this in the film’ and if they did who would watch it?

Have you read Let Me in? Let me know what you thought.


2 responses to “Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

  1. I think this is one of those books that it’s almost impossible to be objective about, which is why it was so interesting reading your opinion on it. It’s a really personal question whether or not you enjoy something that is, just as you put it, in many ways just unpleasant and gross. Personally, I really like it when a writer can just dive into characters’ psyche – especially if he does so with so many different characters – even if said psyche is a very dark and unnerving place to be.

    One thing we can all agree on, though, is that Lindqvist is an excellent writer. That’s the closest thing we’ll get to an objective fact about this book. He takes all his characters very seriously, you can tell he knows them inside out, and he has the entire story mapped out in his head way ahead of the ending. I admire that in a writer, and as I said, I loved the book, but that’s just me.

    I also think it’s different to read this book when you’re Swedish. One of the main reasons it became such a big deal here is that Lindqvist took this cool, Hollywoodish story – a vampire falling in love with an ordinary person – and put it in a very bleak, dull, low income neighborhood in Sweden. Writers here almost never do that, they either make the story all Hollywood, usually set somewhere else, or make the whole thing bleak and “typically Swedish.”

    Now I sound like I’m some sort of elitist whining over how YOU DON’T GET IT, but that’s really not what I mean. I’m just saying that it’s that level of realism that I think makes him brave enough to write from the POV of a pedophile, without sugar coating it, make him “good inside” or something like that. I think that takes some guts as a writer. And somehow making this gruesome, horrible tale somehow revolve around love and how it can overcome almost anything, takes a lot of talent. 🙂

    • Yup, it does take something for a writer to create a character like that without being “safe” about it. I think as a reader it’s always hard.You want to reach in and fix the plot the way you want, kill off the bad guys make everyone live happily ever after, but you’re just along for the ride. Definitely one of the top two disturbing books I’ve read, but well written. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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