Let the Right One In
|Let the Right One In|
Swedish book cover
|Author(s)||John Ajvide Lindqvist|
|Original title||(Swedish: Låt den rätte komma in)|
|Publisher||St. Martin's Griffin|
|Published in English||2008-10-28|
Let the Right One In (Swedish: Låt den rätte komma in), or Let Me In, is a 2004 vampire fiction novel by Swedish writer John Ajvide Lindqvist. The story centers on the relationship between a 12-year-old boy, Oskar, and a centuries-old vampire child, Eli. It takes place in Blackeberg, a working class suburb of Stockholm, in the early 1980s. The book focuses on the darker side of humanity, dealing with issues such as existential anxiety, school bullying, paedophilia and murder.
The book was a bestseller in the author's home country of Sweden and was translated into several languages, including English. A Swedish-language film, Let the Right One In, directed by Tomas Alfredson, was released in 2008 to widespread critical acclaim. An English-language film adaptation (based on the original Swedish screenplay and novel), directed by Matt Reeves, was released on October 1, 2010, titled Let Me In, which was also well received by critics.
In 1981 Blackberg, Stockholm, Oskar is a 12-year old boy who lives with his mother, who is loving and with whom he initially seems to have a close connection. His father, whom Oskar visits occasionally, is an alcoholic living in the countryside. Because the boy is the victim of merciless bullying, Oskar has gained morbid interests, which include crime and forensics, and keeps a scrapbook filled with newspaper articles about murders.
One day, he befriends Eli, a child of about the same age, who just moved in next door. Eli lives with an older man named Håkan, a former teacher who was fired when caught with possession of child pornography and has since become a vagrant. Eli is revealed to be a vampire who was turned as a child and therefore stuck forever in a young body. Oskar and Eli develop a close relationship, and Eli helps Oskar fight back against his tormentors. Throughout the book their relationship gradually becomes closer, and they reveal more of themselves and in particular fragments of Eli's human life. Among the details revealed is that Eli is a boy who was castrated when he was turned into a vampire over 200 years ago. However, Eli dresses in female clothing and is perceived by outsiders as a young girl.
Håkan serves Eli, whom he loves, by procuring blood from the living, fighting against his conscience and choosing victims whom he can physically trap, but who are not too young. Eli gives him money for doing this, though Håkan makes it clear he would do it for nothing if Eli allowed them to be physically intimate. Håkan offers to go out one last time under the condition that he spend a night with Eli after he gets the blood, but with the caveat that he may only touch Eli.
Håkan's last attempt to get blood fails and he is caught. Just before capture, however, he intentionally disfigures himself with acid so that the police will not be able to trace Eli through him. When Eli finds him in the hospital, Håkan offers his blood and is drunk dry while sitting on the window ledge, but a guard interrupts them and Eli fails to kill him. So that he will not end up becoming a vampire also, Håkan throws himself out of the window to the ground below. Despite this, he soon reanimates as a mindless vampire driven only by his desire for Eli. Then relentlessly pursuing him, Håkan manages to trap Eli in a basement, but Eli fights him off and escapes. Later, the wounded Håkan is destroyed by a youth from the neighborhood who accidentally gets locked in the basement with him.
Meanwhile, the Blackeberg local Lacke suspects a child is responsible for the murder of his best friend, Jocke (whom Eli has killed for blood). Later, Lacke witnesses Eli attack his sometime-girlfriend, Virginia. He attempts to drink her blood, but is fought off by Lacke. Virginia survives, but starts turning into a vampire. She does not realize her "infection" until she tries to prolong her life by drinking her own blood, and finds that exposure to the sun causes boils on her skin. Upon being hospitalized, Virginia realizes what she has turned into and kills herself in her bed by deliberately exposing herself to daylight.
Oskar eventually fights back and injures his tormentor, Jonny, for which the boy's older brother Jimmy hunts down and attempts to hurt Oskar in retaliation. Oskar further incurs their wrath when he sets fire to their desks, destroying a treasured photo album belonging to their father. They corner Oskar at night at the local swimming pool and attempt to drown him, however Eli rescues Oskar and kills two of the other boys, and together they flee the city with Eli's money and possessions.
- Oskar, the male protagonist, a bullied twelve year-old
- Eli, a centuries-old vampire
- Håkan, a middle age man who helps Eli by procuring blood
- Tommy, a rebellious teenager, neighbour and friend of Oskar
- Lacke, a local alcoholic
- Virginia, a divorced woman who has a difficult relationship with Lacke
- Yvonne, Tommy's mother
- Staffan, a policeman and Yvonne's new boyfriend
- Jonny, a bully in Oskar's class
- Jimmy, Jonny's older, sadistic brother
- Morgan, Jocke, Larry and Gösta, Lacke's friends
The American version is called Let Me In because the publishers believed that the original title was too long. They first suggested the title be changed to Let Her In, but Lindqvist suggested Let Me In instead given that 'Her' was inaccurate. A paperback with the original title was later released to promote the film.
Bibliography (English translations) 
- UK Edition: London: Quercus: 2007. ISBN 1-84724-169-7
- US Edition: Let The Right One In: New York: Thomas Dunne Books: 2007. ISBN 0-312-35528-9
- Australian Edition: Melbourne: Text: 2007. ISBN 978-1-921145-71-1
Film adaptations 
Let the Right One In (2008) 
In 2008, the Swedish film Let the Right One In was released, and it is based on the novel by the same name.
Let Me In (2010) 
An English language film based on both the Swedish film's screenplay and the novel Let the Right One In was released in October 2010. The film's setting was changed from Sweden to New Mexico, and the main characters' names were changed to Owen and Abby.
Lindqvist wrote a short story titled Låt de gamla drömmarna dö ("Let the old dreams die") following what happened to Oskar and Eli after they got off on the train. He wrote it to clarify his intentions with the characters in response to the interpretations that Eli was only preparing Oskar to be her helper all along.
- Michael Phillips, "Let Me In: 3 stars" (review of the film), Chicago Tribune, 30 September 2010.
- "Let the Right One In". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-01-03.
- http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1228987/. Missing or empty
- (Swedish)"Interview with John Lindqvist". ordfront.se.
- "Interview with John Ajvide Lindqvist". Aint It Cool News.