Literary Horror discussion

Let the Right One In
This topic is about Let the Right One In
Monthly Reads > December 2018 Group Read: Let the Right One In

Comments Showing 1-12 of 12 (12 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Ronald (new) - added it

Ronald (rpdwyer) | 551 comments This is the thread for Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

message 2: by Ronald (new) - added it

Ronald (rpdwyer) | 551 comments This is the fist time I'm reading the novel, though I saw the movie adaptation.

John Ajvide Lindqvist is a good writer.

The story in the novel is more gruesome and has a more sordid backdrop than the movie.

"Now let me tell you the strange part. First you slice someone's neck open so they die. You'd expect to see a lot of blood, right? Lasse and Robban both nodded. Tommy paused for a while in the midst of their expectation before he dropped the bomb.

"But the ground underneath...where the guy was hanging. There was almost no blood at all. Just a few drops. And he must have gushed out several liters, hanging up like that."

Marie-Therese (mariethrse) | 550 comments The book is definitely grittier and less romantic than the film. I like both very much but feel they have different focuses, with the book having a more realistic tone that I ultimately found more emotionally powerful than the film (although I found the film more aesthetically pleasing).

Scott The Swedish film does have a nice aesthetic. I almost like it better than the novel as it is more streamlined. (I still like the book a lot though.)

message 5: by Ronald (new) - added it

Ronald (rpdwyer) | 551 comments 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.

message 6: by Ronald (new) - added it

Ronald (rpdwyer) | 551 comments One thing though: I tremendously disliked the decision by John Ajvide Lindqvist to describe Hakan's pedophilia.

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.

Scott Ronald wrote: "One thing though: I tremendously disliked the decision by John Ajvide Lindqvist to describe Hakan's pedophilia."

Did you not think it added to the story, or did you simply find it distasteful?

I thought it provided an excellent explanation for why Håkan would be doing that kind of work for someone like Eli.

message 8: by Ronald (new) - added it

Ronald (rpdwyer) | 551 comments Scott wrote: "Ronald wrote: "One thing though: I tremendously disliked the decision by John Ajvide Lindqvist to describe Hakan's pedophilia."

Did you not think it added to the story, or did you simply find it d..."

I think the characterization of Hakan as a pedophile could have been done in a better way.

There is--to my mind at least--an excellent science fiction story entitled "Wendy" by Jim Grimsley.

In "Wendy", the narrator is a young man who inherited a fortune. He also has pedophile feelings. To satisfy his desire, he created an entity to service him. This entity, named "Wendy", has a human child body. Yet, this entity is turned off and on. It is unclear to me how much "Wendy" is conscious.

The narrator is sued. His defense in court: it is not a human being. The narrator takes the stand, and says he has a sick desire and Wendy prevents him from preying on children. The jury's verdict: not guity.

The narrator feels that Wendy does not give him full satisfaction, and preying on kids is horrible, so he kills himself.

An editor of a now defunct online science fiction magazine
read the story, and remarked that it was "tastefully done" and he would be proud to publish the story. However, Jim Grimsley went with another publisher.

I agree that "Wendy" was tastefully done. It did no go into the description of the act.

If you are curious how I know about this story: Jim Grimsley started a thread at the old Asimov's forum that his story "Wendy" was at first accepted but then rejected by Asimov's. He asked if he should accept the kill fee.

It was quite a thread--Harlan Ellison had two posts. If I recall correctly, Harlan Ellison made two points to Jim Grimsley:

1. Accept the kill fee.
2. Quit acting like some needy peasant clutching to a king's robe.

That thread was deleted by Asimov's. Later, the Asimov's Forum got shut down and all the posts destroyed.

"Wendy" was published in Subterranean Press magazine, and appears in his short story collection _Jesus is Sending You This Message_.

Marie-Therese (mariethrse) | 550 comments For whatever it's worth, I didn't have a problem with the way Lindquvist depicted Hakan; I found the character both pitiful and deeply unsympathetic, and I felt the realism, the ugliness of Eli's situation with Hakan helped ground his character and explain the brutality of some of Eli's later actions.

As I mentioned before, I think the book is considerably grimmer than the film and readers going into the book with the film still uppermost in their mind may be shocked or discomfited by how dark the story really is. There are very grim scenes late in the book that never made it into the movie and I can see why as I think they would have changed the focus and the aesthetic in ways a two hour film couldn't handle.

message 10: by Ronald (new) - added it

Ronald (rpdwyer) | 551 comments Eli finds Hakan 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.

Another character in the novel, Virginia, is attacked by Eli. Virginia 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.

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.

message 11: by Ronald (new) - added it

Ronald (rpdwyer) | 551 comments Virginia is attacked by cats and gets hospitalized. Virginia kills herself in her hospital bed by deliberately exposing herself to daylight.

Hakan reaches and attempts to sexually assault Eli. Hakan eventually dies from stabbing and fire. The authorities find Hakan's body.

Eli and Oskar become closer and Eli reveals more about herself.
Oskar further incurs the wrath of his school tormentors 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.

I gave the book 4 stars.

Marie-Therese (mariethrse) | 550 comments Your rating is right in line with mine, Ronald.

I thought this was a very good book-moving, well-written, well plotted, and well paced. I thought Lindquvist did a really good job of describing how miserable adolescence can be without bogging the reader down in the minutiae of that experience. The bullying, the confusion, the striving to establish an independent identity were all part of the story but they never overtook the essential horror in a way that slowed the tale down. Everything was just really well-integrated and reality and fantasy blended seamlessly to create a touching but dark, rather sad story. This is definitely among the best contemporary vampire tales I've read.

back to top