UPDATE! I’ve now recorded a review on Youtube, as well. Check it out!
(If you’re wondering why I’m reading all these old books that have been out so long, I have a one-word answer for you — college. That’s all.)
This post was going to be a review of Augusten Burrough’s deeply disturbing memoir, Running with Scissors. But I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo today and wow! It’s so good!!!!!! /fangirl
I’ve been vaguely curious about Stieg Larsson’s trilogy for awhile, so I jumped at the chance to take it off my mother-in-law’s hands (she inherited someone else’s books and this series is probably not her style). I know not everyone has the time (or focus) to read 300 pages in a day, but this is a book that benefits from condensed reading, not a chapter a day. (For one thing, the book is over 600 pages, so it would take a long time!) The plot is intricate, filled with characters and names and intrigue.
Plot summary (in case you’ve missed it, as I’d managed to): Mikael Blomkvist, an investigative journalist, is hired by a CEO to write a family history and investigate the disappearance/murder of his niece. The catch? The incident occurred 40 years ago. Blomkvist is eventually aided by Lisbeth Salander, an antisocial, oddball PI. (It’s much more complicated than that, but I love the fun of discovering a plot, so I won’t ruin for you.)
So many good things! But I will try not to fangirl here.
First, the characters. Larsson’s cast of characters is broad, well-developed, and highly intriguing. Lisbeth, in particular, is a constantly unfolding mystery, which I absolutely adore. Blomkvist is less of a mystery, but a very sympathetic character, sort of the normalcy in the midst of the chaos that builds.
The intricate murder mystery. The details of Harriet’s disappearance fit together into such a perfect puzzle. I loved the process of discovering new information and leads with Blomkvist.
The pacing. Larsson doesn’t rush this story at all. In fact, at times it even seems a bit slow. But that slowness adds depth to the plot and important details for the faster sections.
The tone. Although the book deals with some very unsavory topics – murder, mutilation, rape, assault, BDSM (consensual & not), and incest, to name a few – Larsson doesn’t describe them in unnecessary detail. There’s very little cursing, and every action, good or bad, is presented factually, as from a detached reporter. That might be off-putting to some people, but I appreciated the straightforward approach.
The relationships in the book are a bit difficult to understand. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m not Swedish, or not secular enough, or what. But there’s lots of sleeping around and odd dynamics there.
As above mentioned, the book covers a lot of “rated R” topics (but not approvingly, I should add). If you’re uncomfortable with that, don’t bother.
It’s long (and part of a long trilogy!). Not a problem for me, but it might be for some people.
Very technical. If you don’t want details about Swedish finance, economics, businesses, or media, you might get lost/bored.
Fantastic read. I can’t wait to read the next two books and see the film (available on Netflix, yay!). Give it a try, especially if you’re into mystery, intrigue, or really fascinating characters.
Have you read Larsson’s trilogy? Or seen the movie? Know similar books that I would love? Let me know in the comments!
PS – If you’re wondering what the dragon tattoo means – absolutely nothing! It was the American change from the original Swedish title “Men Who Hate Women.” Lisbeth has a dragon tattoo, but it doesn’t feature prominently in the story. I was not impressed with the publisher’s choice, although it’s obviously sold well…
Want reviews of the rest of the series? Check out my Youtube channel!