Brief Review of Let The Right One In Book/Movie

lettherightoneinthe-book
Let the Right One In
(Låt den rätte komma in)
By John Ajvide Lindqvist
Publisher: Quercus
ISBN13: 9781847241696
Pages: 513
Genre: Horror/Paranormal

Blurb:

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night….


my-thought

*This title contains scenes of violence and sexual content that may be unsettling.

I love that moment when you can put a title down after completion and just stare at it in pure astonishment. I found myself doing just this with Let the Right One In for a multitude of reasons which I will now try to condense into something coherent.

I am going to be very forthright in the fact that there was absolutely nothing about this novel that I found myself lacking appreciation for. I mean nothing. So if you are seeking a critique or true dissection of the work, probably fair to look elsewhere. Here you are going to find only an attempt to summarize the mountainous pile of elements that worked so well for me within the pages.

“To flee is life. To linger, death.”

This was a very slow burn sort of read, but in the completely acceptable and most valuable sort of way. Every thing from the pace or narration to the world building worked in perfect correlation to achieve an unsettling atmosphere that fueled this dark book. It is rather difficult to fairly acknowledge all that the author has accomplished here. The fluid stream of tension and dread create a highly mood driven and otherworldly experience that I find myself struggling to convey. I soon discovered this was a very difficult title to put down. It was many things, but if I had to narrow my description down to a few words, inviting and unrelenting would be accurate.

The characterization that occurs within Let the Right One In is among some of the finest I have encountered.  Eli, Oskar and Håkan (among others) expose us to a variety of heavy emotions and spare no expense. Some are discovered to be very relatable while others are more horrific and difficult to read at the best of times. The narration triumphantly navigates through a rather large ensemble of unique individuals. Perhaps of greatest note is the fact that I never found myself longing to return to a specific character or portion of the story. Each encounter was of great contribution and interest. I was always content exactly where I was. While Oskar would be our protagonist, each claimed their own earned spotlight so it almost seems unfair to even use the word.

let-the-right-one-in-2008-still

The plot itself is disturbing yet completely engaging, pulling you into a complex and beautiful web of revelation and personal experience.  Since I truly believe that these revelations are key to the book’s success, I am actually going to refrain from a recap.

I have to applaud the author’s brazen decision to approach this story-line in an explicit and graphic manner as it was highly rewarding in the long run. Again, this will not be a fitting read for everyone. Which I mention “graphic” I am not using the word lightly. The author has chosen to sacrifice no detail.

This isn’t a simply story of a vampire but also of adolescence and life. We are exposed to humanity not only from the side of innocence and youth, but through the eyes of that which we fear. And being forced to acknowledge the existence of both is not always an easy pill to swallow. It challenges us and takes us to an uncomfortable depth that threatens a small amount of understanding or acceptance. That is what Let the Right One In does. It forces us to see each character for all they truly are and represent. It delivers us from the blissful ignorance and questioning of youth deep into the unnerving side of a polar opposite.

The fruit of Lindqvist’s labor results in an unapologetic experience that actually defines fear on a very human and uneasy level. This is a haunting and alluring read that dares to take the reader further into the dark reaches of paranormal from an entirely unique perspective. It feels wrong to say that I love this title the way I do, yet I simply do. Tackling a combination of raw reality and the unthinkable what if, this was a heavy read that I highly recommend to all who are comfortable with unsettling content.


Thoughts On the Film

For this brisk comparison I watched the 2008 film adapted by John Ajvide Lindqvist and directed by Tomas Alfredson. The cast included Kåre Hedebrant, Lina Leandersson and Per Ragnar. I stuck with subtitles as always. I am not a fan of dubbed films (plus partially deaf so 😉 ).

For those of you who may have missed my original post of the trailer:

Overall, the film ranked very high with me. Visually stunning, it managed to deliver a cinematic experience that easily captured the same foreboding atmosphere and mood established within the book. The cast effortlessly portrays what I felt to be a not only fair but interesting depiction of each character.

While it seems that a lot of the graphic scenes and more explicit content were omitted when transferring the story to film, it was a decision that was probably necessary. There are somethings that are just not as digestible when handed to you in image. There is a strong difference between reading and viewing certain topics and somethings are just not acceptable on film.

There were however, a few minor disappointments with the film adaptation. Here are my biggest complaints:

  • The experience was too condensed. I felt another 30 to 60 minutes of footage would have been more effective.
  • Details that contributed to the complexity of each character were lost due to the lack of dialog.  I felt that the addition of extra dialog could have replaced details that were lost due not receiving the narration that is provided in the book. Although I am torn on this matter because the lack of dialog contributes to the atmosphere.
  • There was simply not enough focus on the relationship established between Oskar and Eli. This is my biggest complaint and falls back to being too condensed. Time to elaborate on this would have been of great benefit.
  • Håkan’s role was completely downplayed . Admittedly, I believe this is due mainly in large to the fact that some of his identity was sacrificed to keep the film from becoming overly graphic.

I think too often we find that it is just impossible to fit an entire book into one film. There are always omissions and alterations to accommodate the big screen. The question is, was the end result effective? For me yes and a small no. A beautiful movie, but one of the rare occasions where I felt I might have enjoyed it more had I chosen to watch it first and then allow the book to fill the missing pieces. I do not normally recommend watching before reading, but in the case of Let the Right One In I feel it certainly could not hurt.

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63 thoughts on “Brief Review of Let The Right One In Book/Movie

  1. I haven’t read the book, loved the film though, definitely subtitles, it’s great, far better than the US remake with kickass girl, Chloe Moretz?

    Totally agree about book to film, it can be done, and it can be done really well, but yeah, it often misses stuff out, it might even be stuff that’s irrelevant to the main story but if it’s a part of the book that you liked, you miss it and question why it wasn’t included. Likewise, if they include a bit in the film that you didn’t like in the book, you question WTF, why did they include that, can’t please everyone though.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have not watched the US adaptation of this one. I am sure I will eventually. I just truly enjoy foreign films and feel they often do a solid job of catching the grittier and darker side of matters. This one was pretty close. I feel most of the omissions were based solely on the fact that the content would not have went over well visually. I definitely recommend checking the book out though. Stellar read 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So curious about this one, but I think I’m going to watch the film instead, I just can’t add more books. And it’s on Netflix I think (for Spain) so… but you’re right, you can never capture a whole book in a film!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would recommend the film first anyway so it is a win. You can always pick the book up down the run if it sparks an interest. I think you will take more from the film without reading the book. Just make sure it is not US version. I have no idea about that one haha. Haven’t watched 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ooo I think a reread is definitely on the cards for me. I remember loving the book when I read it (I think I was 17/18?) so I’m keen to read again, especially after reading your awesome review! I’m older now and would like to read it again with fresh eyes 🙂 I recommend reading ‘Harbour’ too. If I remember correctly, I enjoyed that even more than ‘Let the right one in’. So pleased you enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve only seen the movie for this one but after having read your review I’m thinking I need to read the book! It’s been so long since I watched it but I remember enjoying the movie a lot. It was definitely atmospheric. And if the book is even better (like most books that are adapted are) then I have a feeling I’ll really like it. You’ve definitely got me curious about the book now where I wasn’t before. I’ll be adding it to my TBR. Great review as always, Danielle!! 😁♥

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I enjoyed both movies (though definitely liked the Swedish/original best) and the book. Ended up liking the movies better because I had trouble getting into the writing style but I agree that the author did a good job making certain parts very horrifying, even more disturbing than the movies (the part with the toothless boy and Håkan was so disturbing!).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t read the book (although I have a friend who keeps telling me how amazing it is), but I have seen both movie versions, and thought they were both excellent! After reading this, I think I really do need to give the book a try.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my word! I need this book, like, yesterday!!!! How did I not know about this one already? Mayeb it has crossed my path but… your review definitely makes me want to read it.. just drop everything else and read it, 500+ pages or not XD 😀

    Loved this review, Dani and I will defo get this one. Sounds so so so so good 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right?! I was wondering if you had read this. I actually featured it a while back on Goodreads Monday and then found myself having to just get it! So glad I did. Such a dark, good slow burn. I would absolutely love to see how this sits with you Liz. There are some warped characters in this haha.

      I am glad you enjoyed this review because I struggled like hell over it to be honest. It sat in drafts for days..

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Warped characters sounds so good.. I may need to drop some books off my pile just to make room for this baby! XD Aye, the difficult reviews, sitting in drafts for days… but it was worth it, the review is so good! ❤

        Liked by 2 people

      1. I usually like forgien versions of a movie better, but with this one I liked the US version a squidge better. It has been so long that I don’t remember why. I think it was a British/US collaboration? That may have helped it not be so typically American adaptationy. I will have to have a rewatch if both of them. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  8. It makes me so happy to hear you gushing about this book! I feel like it’s been so long since I’ve seen you review a book which you loved this much. Yay! This is one of those books which has been on the periphery of my reading list for a long time. I really adore dark, psychological, non-scary books (like Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier)– but I struggle with anything graphic. I hope someday I’ll be able to get to this. Wonderful review, Danielle!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will forewarn that this is pretty graphic in a sense. Obviously there is some violence. There are also some disturbing psych/sexual elements. But it truly is masterfully done. I would absolutely love to see your thoughts on it. Although, if we disagree.. prepare for battle bahahaha 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Wahh, so glad to hear how much you enjoyed this. Crazy how it turned out soo flawless, even if it seemed like a slow-burner. I definitely appreciate the movie review of the original adaptation (instead of the Hollywood version of it). I’ve always thought that foreign movies do a much better job in being less…discrete and much darker too! I would definitely love to hear what you’d think about the American version though. Would be funny to hear a rant (if it’s bad). 😀 😀 Fantastic review though, Danielle! Always love reading them!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks always Lashaan! You spoil me with kind words 🙂 I do plan on checking out the US version as well. I could not agree more though. Foreign films definitely seem to capture that foreboding air and darkness so much better. They just seem grittier or more raw. I love them for that. I do hear good things about the US version though 🙂 We will see.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I saw the film not long after it came out and actually didn’t realise it was an adaptation, this is probably more on the horror side than I would normally read but based on the film (which I thought was outstanding) and your review I think I will give it a go.

    Liked by 1 person

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