Home > Opinions (Reading), Reading > Reading: Let the Right One In

Reading: Let the Right One In

This is actually the film poster, but I have the version of the book that uses the same image on the cover.

Having already seen the film I wasn’t sure whether the book would just be treading the same ground, but there’s enough extra content here to make it a worthwhile experience even for those familiar with the film adaptation. The film is a faithful adaptation but it’s a lengthy book so it could only ever take the highlights.

The book goes into greater detail with every key character in the way that only books can. With Oskar you get inside his head from the start, when he’s at his most pathetic (and sympathetic), through to the changes he undergoes thanks to Eli, who helps him stand up for himself against the bullies that torment him every day of school. Even with the main bully, Jonny, the reader gets to know him better, so that when the book reaches its shocking climax there’s a greater understanding of all the characters involved.

This depth reaches uncomfortable levels with Håkan, the man who adores Eli and willingly kills to acquire the blood his beloved needs to survive. Where the 2008 film skirted around the issue the book doesn’t hide that he’s a paedophile, having been driven out of his home because of it and actively soliciting sex from young boys in the book. For some people it could easily cross the line into things they would rather not read about.

At its core though the book is an unconventional love story between Oskar, lonely, damaged and in need of a friend, and Eli, ancient but also a child, needing help with things that nobody should ever be asked to do and in many ways even more lonely than Oskar. The book never shies away from the horror of Eli’s existence but at the same time there’s still a sweet romance at the core, two lonely people finding one another and becoming better for it.

The Swedish cover is excellent but I don't know what people would think if they saw you reading it.

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