Let the Right One In (novel)
Swedish book cover
|Author||John Ajvide Lindqvist|
|Original title||(Swedish: Låt den rätte komma in)|
|Publisher||St. Martin's Griffin|
Published in English
Let the Right One In (Swedish: Låt den rätte komma 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 thematically heavy issues such as existential anxiety, social isolation, fatherlessness, divorce, alcoholism, school bullying, pedophilia, genital mutilation, self-mutilation, 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. An English-language film adaptation based on the Lindqvist's screenplay titled Let Me In, directed by Matt Reeves, was released in 2010. An English-language stage adaptation premiered in 2013. American network TNT ordered a pilot episode for a television series based on the novel, to premiere in 2017; however, TNT ultimately passed on the series.
In 1981 Blackeberg, 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 and mind. 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 and tries to rape Eli, but Eli fights him off and escapes. Later, the wounded Håkan is destroyed by Tommy who accidentally gets locked in the basement with him.
Meanwhile, Blackeberg local alcoholic 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. Lacke, while attempting to avenge Virginia, is thwarted by Oskar and Eli.
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 decapitates the two brothers, 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 who physically resembles a twelve-year-old
- Håkan, a middle-aged 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 title refers to the Morrissey song "Let the Right One Slip In". It is a play on the concept in vampire folklore which says that vampires cannot enter a house unless invited. 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. It is the vampire who must be careful to let the right person in on her secret. 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
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.
Let the Right One In (2008)
In 2008, a Swedish film adaptation of Let the Right One In was released, directed by Tomas Alfredson and starring Lina Leandersson as Eli and Kåre Hedebrant as Oskar. Swedish critics praised the film, and it was ranked #15 in Empire Magazine's 2010 list of "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema".
Let Me In (2010)
An English language film based mainly on the Swedish film's screenplay was released in October 2010. The film's setting was changed from Blackeberg to Los Alamos, New Mexico, and the main characters' names were changed to Owen and Abby. Directed by Cloverfield director Matt Reeves and starring Chloë Grace Moretz as Abby and Kodi Smit-McPhee as Owen, it received very positive reviews despite not performing well at the box office.
A new stage adaptation by the National Theatre of Scotland written by Jack Thorne directed by John Tiffany premiered at Dundee Rep Theatre in June 2013 and transferred to the Royal Court Theatre for November & December 2013. The show transferred to the Apollo Theatre in March 2014, having received positive reviews from a number of national media outlets. The production toured to New York with a run at St. Ann's Warehouse in 2015. In January 2016, a production opened in Seoul, South Korea. Jack Thorne's play premiered at Rogaland Teater in Stavanger, Norway, January 24, 2015 in a new production as La den rette komme inn.
Comic book series
In April 2010, it was announced that Hammer Film Productions and Dark Horse Comics are producing a four-issue comic book limited series. Marc Andreyko will write the comic. The series, titled Let Me In: Crossroads, is a prequel to the American film. The first issue has Abby and her "guardian" facing a ruthless real-estate tycoon who wants to steal their home and was released in December 2010. Original author John Ajvide Lindqvist said "Nobody has asked me about [doing a comic] and I think that the project stinks. I am looking into this matter and hope that they have no right to do this." Later, he informed fans that he had in fact unwittingly sold the rights for the comic to be made, stating that the producers had misinformed him as to the nature of the contract he had signed.
In March 2015 A&E Studios confirmed the television series adaption of the novel. The series will air on A&E and is written by Jeff Davis and Brandon Boyce. In August 2016, TNT ordered a pilot. In September 2016, Kristine Froseth was cast as Eli in the pilot. In October 2016, Thomas Kretschmann and Benjamin Wadsworth were cast in the pilot.
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