After having leaped onto the bandwagon with the rest of everyone, I feel a certain amount of pretentious indie pride saying that I wasn t as awed by this book as everyone else apparently was Which is not to say that the book wasn t enjoyable and exciting it just didn t knock my socks off whilst simultaneously blowing my mind and rocking my world that sounds like either some great song lyrics or a very complicated sexual maneuver Let s go with the first option So, the good stuff the main story a disgraced journalist is hired by a rich old man to write a book about said man s crazy rich family, while secretly working to discover truth behind the disappearance and supposed murder of the man s granddaughter Also in play is Lisbeth Salander, a freelance investigator who also happens to be one of the best hackers in Sweden She also happens to be made of awesome, but I ll get to that later The journalist is investigating a supposed murder a body was never found, so no one even knows what happened to the girl , so violence is expected I just wasn t quite prepared for just how intensely graphic the violence is There s a lot of stuff dealing with assault, rape, and murder of various women There is also a lot of sex in the book, and the stuff that gets described in the most detail is definitely not consensual and will probably make you very uncomfortable You ve been warned The investigation itself is pretty fascinating, implausible as it is that some random guy investigating a disappearance that took place 40 years ago was able to find out completely new leads that weren t found by the police or the girl s grandfather who s been obsessing about the case since forever , but I digress The family itself is equal parts interesting, creepy, and frustrating It s not until the journalist Blomkvist teams up with Lisbeth that things get really interesting, and they made such a fun team I wanted them to get their own detective show The book deals mainly with crimes against women and those who commit them Larsson obviously feels very passionately about this subject, as well as what should be done with the men who assault women Without giving anything away, rest assured that every bad guy rapist murderer whatever gets a large helping of tasty justice And now for the bad stuff There s a lot of nattering on about business and computers and journalism and business stuff that either bored me or went over my head completely Larsson cannot seem to decide whether he wants to refer to people by their last name or their first name, so he switches back and forth and it is confusing A family tree is provided at the beginning of the book, since the family the journalist is investigating the Vangers is pretty big, but I never had much trouble keeping everyone straight A map of the island the family compound is located on would have been much helpful, since I never really figured out the geography of the place Pointless details I don t need to know what the characters ate for every single meal, I don t need to know exactly what model of computer motorcycle car a character uses, and I definitely don t need to know what each character is wearing at every moment of the day Larsson is especially guilty of this when Lisbeth is concerned I guess he decided we wouldn t understand what a unique counterculture tough chick she is unless we know that she s always wearing leather jackets, boots, torn jeans, and black t shirts with angry slogans yes, Larsson actually tells us what each of Lisbeth s t shirts says Listen, Stieg Lisbeth is awesome She is wonderfully defined simply through her own actions and thoughts we don t even need the other characters constantly reminding us how antisocial and tough and uncommunicative and badass she is Believe me, we can see that.
Show don t tell etc To sum up, I m going to give the last word to the book itself, and quote a sentence that s actually a character talking about a book featured towards the end of the story but it could easily describe Larsson s book It was uneven stylistically, and in places the writing was actually rather poor there had been no time for any fine polishing but the book was animated by a fury that no reader could help but notice That, in a nutshell, was how I felt about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.
UPDATE I just watched the film version of this book the original Swedish one, thank you verra much , and am adding this to my the movie is better shelf Not that the book isn t good it s just that the movie streamlines the story and gets rid of everything I complained about earlier in this review In the movie, all the minor characters and business drama babble has been eliminated, Erika and Mikael s weird three way relationship is thankfully unmentioned, Mikael never boffs Cecilia Vanger, and Noomi Rapace is so fucking cool as Lisbeth I can t even handle it I m also pretty sure they took some stuff from The Girl Who Played With Fire and put it in the movie, because there s some stuff about Lisbeth s past that I don t remember from the book UPDATE UPDATE Having now seen the American remake, and re watched the Swedish version, I have come to a following decision While the American version is, in a technical sense, a better movie Fincher is a much better director for just one example, the scene where Henrik Vanger explains the circumstances of Harriet s disappearance is a masterful example of show don t tell , I dislike the changes they made to the ending, and I simply cannot accept Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Although I m proud of Fincher Co for making her look and act as weird as the character should, something about her portrayal still wasn t right If you re interested, this article explains pretty much every complaint I have about American Lisbeth.
I really don t understand the critical orgasms over this book pushed it on me for weeks, and the minute I stepped into Borders an employee ran over and recommended it Thinking, this really better be the best book I ve ever read, I took it up to the checkstand, where the register guy asked Did one of our employees recommend this Um, yeah And , too So of course I asked him why Oh, he replied, we ve been told to recommend it this week That should have tipped me off right there recommendations handed down by management Pfft I hesitate to suggest a conspiracy, but did someone end up with too many of these in a warehouse in Duluth Did Oprah make a bet with someone that she could pull strings and make the most boring book in the world a best seller But I am suckered in by numerous good reviews and a fairly interesting book jacket description, so I buy it and take it with me on a trip camping with my family Of course it totally sucks I m kicking myself because I feel like I really should have known But the reviews ALL the reviews are absolutely positive from generally reliable sources, so I just DO NOT UNDERSTAND.
Here s why I don t like it I am about a third of the way into it, and literally hundreds of characters have been introduced NOT ONE of them has done anything interesting, so I am finding it nearly impossible to keep them straight I am the type that will be or less satisfied reading the back of a cereal box, but this is BAD I mean bad The mystery is dull The who done it is like a who cares The two primary characters are so far not very likable at all in fact, the review descriptions are interesting than the book descriptions of them I m betting part of the problem is the translation, presumably but god, there is just some boring writing in here, too He went to the store He bought milk He was cold He went home BOR RING I am not really exaggerating, either Actual content He put on a pot of coffee and made himself two sandwiches He had not eaten a proper meal all day, but he was strangely uninterested in food he offered the cat a piece of sausage and some liverwurst After drinking the coffee, he took the cigarettes out of his jacket pocket and opened the pack Again, I m willing to give the author the benefit of the doubt with the translating, but I wouldn t have gotten out of high school writing with that kind of boring and utterly pointless description It sets the tone of lonely dude being lonely but really two sandwiches why two sausage and liverwurst fascinating.
That s really just a page I opened to randomly there is much worse I am truly bitterly resentful of every minute I am stuck on the side of this mountain without a good book to read I m ready to browse the mini mart down the way and read the real estate magazines instead Why have all the reviewers and steered me SO WRONG I am not trying to insult anyone s taste so please don t get mad about my opinion But if you love this book, please tell me WHY What am I missing Women are raised to routinely fear rape If you go at night, take a friend Check under the car and in your backseat before you get in I m just saying it s a good idea to know where the exits are I got you this whistle for your keychain, you know, just so you have it You were an hour later than I thought you d be We called the police Oh, that s pepper spray I keep it with me just in case I just make sure I get my keys out and check for other weapons if I m getting off work late Is this weird I live alone and I m going running, so if I don t call you by 11 15, call the police, okay A woman who fights back no, a woman who argues at all does so knowing it will probably make her a social pariah She s just one of those women who makes life hell like a Hillary Clinton type You re different you re not a ball buster like some girls You know that rape accusations can destroy a man s life, right And when she said it, did you see how she looked I mean All girls do is complain and nag Not you, of course most girls But it is really women who are the privileged ones to be covered and cared for by the man all of the responsibility for decisions are on him He didn t mean it the way it sounded, so you ll just regret it if you tell him he s wrong She never understood me, and now she s making all of these claims and trying to take practically half of my paycheck I think she was just in it for the money in the first place All I said was she has a nice rack what a bitch That s just life make the best of it And there is good reason we are raised to fear rape, and raised not to fight back survival Women know that if we walk alone in the dark, statistically there is a good chance we will get raped If we go to the wrong party, we ll be raped If we misread that boy next door and his swellness is a con, rape And when a person is in a position of being systematically controlled, it often does cause physical or emotional damage to fight back It s not right, but it is realistic It seems to me like it is the equivalent of every man being raised that if he leaves the house at the wrong time, he might encounter a woman who will strip him naked, hold him down, and knee him in the balls while she masturbates And then in this alternate universe, these boys find out, as they grow up, that most of the men they know have had that happen to them And I m not trying to minimize sexual assault experiences that involve little or no physical injury, nor am I trying to minimize sexual assaults against men no one has the right to touch another person s body without permission I m talking about the way women are raised to think of daily life Women are not raised to be afraid we re going to get a super hot BJ that we didn t realize we wanted, which is sometimes how I feel people talk about rape accusations We are raised to encounter our daily lives knowing that, even if violence wasn t in our past, violence probably is in our future And every time someone says, Don t go alone, it is a little reminder that a lot of men hate us.
I have to say, though, that while I think it is realistic to say that women are raised to fear rape and to incorporate that fear of rape into our daily routine, and that sometimes fighting back makes things dangerous, I do not believe it is effective to live in fear or to encourage women to live in fear or not defend ourselves I think that perpetuates an idea that women are powerless, which then encourages women to freeze up when encountered with violence or even conflict I think trusting our instincts and learning martial arts is probably productive And teaching men not to rape.
That seems like the approach this book takes, though it directly simply reflects, with appropriate outrage, on the levels of male contempt for women And I think in that way, in the way it is directed to men, it is about how gross contempt for women is, whether it takes the form of self absorption or sadism.
This book is smart It is symmetrical in its execution in many ways in starting and ending with Blomkvist s corporate corruption story, and in the way it shows men and women accused of race whoring, men and women subjected to violence The juxtaposition of view spoiler Salander s rape with Blomkvist s consensual sexual encounter with Cicilia hide spoiler Hey, kids, if you like books in which the only major descriptive moments happen during sexual torture scenes, where major characters lack motive, and where the red herringsstink this book s for you I may feel less strongly after a few days, but I am having a hard time believing this book has hit the best seller lists in multiple countries Rant containing Mild Spoilers Here are my complaints 1 The entire book sets you up to think that the alleged killing s were perpetrated by one or people for complicated reasons Spoiler They re not A murderer, at the climax, reveals, I like killing people That s the motive That s it 2 The title character has her macabre past detailed at length The salient facts to the case how did she come into possession of her detective ing skills is left out entirely Her emotional life is ignored until it s needed for a little plot development and then ignored again for a gazillion pages She makes Kinsey Milhoney look like a guru of emotional awareness and self knowledge.
3 When a MAJOR DEVELOPMENT happens in the case, like, THE MAJOR DEVELOPMENT, we the readers hear about its resolution third hand A reunion occurs and we are not privvy to it, even though it s REALLY IMPORTANT That is LAME.
4 Stop with the Mac commericials aleady Is it possible that the well financed campaign for this book had to do with the fact that the dead author couldn t object to selling Apple and Kawasaki shout outs 5.
The two plot lines are almost entirely unrelated They don t even intersect, really one segues into a second, and then, when the second is wrapped up entirely, the first plot returns to end with a whimper 6 There is a Lot of torture porn in this book Did I mention that Detailed description of sexual abuse, incest, and general nastiness that does nothing to advance the plot Really It just takes up space making you think there are reasons for the murders, but no, see 1 We listened to this on cd and I kept trying to forward and ending up on the absolute worst moments Blech.
7 Several passages written as an email conversation It s like the author realized at a certain point that he was so bad at dialogue that he d better just give it a rest for a while and instead use stilted telegraph talking 8 This book was not fun or smart I kept thinking it was about to be, but I was wrong End of Rant
A 85% Extraordinary NotesIt s a logical, captivating mystery where everything clicks into place It gives backwoods Sweden a Transylvania feel.
I re read this book by audio and even though the narrator was good, he didn t do a good job on Lisbeth s voice I wish that Noomi Rapace would have done her own voice That would have been awesome So, I have been a fan of this series for quite some time I have the movie trilogy box set of the books that are fan freaking tastic Although, now I have to switch from dvd to blu ray I also have a couple of different copies of the books Lisbeth Salander is just freaking awesome She s so bloody smart, I wish I was as smart as her and could be an awesome hacker like her too Lol I freaking loved when she got back at the b stard who raped her as well Wheewwwww, if only everyone could get that kind of revenge on their rapist Oh, happy day There are other things going on in the book but the main story line is about an uncle wanting to find out what happened to his niece, Harriet He ends up hiring Mikael Blomkvist to find out what happened Then Mikael gets lucky to have Lisbeth help him Do these two find out some secrets Mikael almost gets killed a time or two Makes you wonder what all they are hiding And of course, it s a big ole nasty secret Why am I not surprised It was just as hard to read about the second time around Of course, there were other scenes that I had to skim through again, but I digress If you haven t wandered into the world that is Lisbeth Salander, what are you waiting for And try and watch the movie trilogy They used to have it on Netflix, that is where I originally watched them and then went straight to to buy them Yes, they are that good as well as the books Happy Reading Mel The original Swedish title of this book is Men Who Hate Women If you ask me, it suits this story much better than catchier but less relevant The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, because it is in fact about men doing all kinds of horrid things to women So here is the first warning to you, if you don t handle violence against women and children well, skip this novel It s hard to give a short synopsis of the book The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo starts off as an investigation of a 40 year old disappearance of a teenage heiress, but gradually morphs into a tale of serial murder and corporate trickery spanning several continents and later takes in complicated international financial fraud and the buried evil past of a wealthy Swedish industrial family.
I found this book extremely engaging and full of action and came to regret many times that I had an audio version instead of a regular paper book I also enjoyed immensely the amount details about everything the publishing business, twisted Swedish family, corporate crime, history and political order of Sweden, etc I am guessing if you don t care to read about any of this subjects, this book is not for you, because it is packed with this information.
My only qualm about this book, a small one, was the characterization The character of Mikael Blomkvist smelled of a male wish fulfillment fantasy, the one where a man is adored by all women, gets laid all the time and always gets lauded for his stellar bedroom skills Lisbeth Salander also felt a little shaky and I thought Asberger s decease didn t quite account for her strange personality I thought her antisocial behavior was inconsistent This however didn t spoil my reading experience I am eager to move on to The Girl Who Played with Fire and see what Mikael and Lisbeth are up to next.
3 It s too convoluted 4 It s too disturbing.
5 Lisbeth wasn t autistic enough or was foolishly autistic.
6 There were too many red herrings, and the damn Nazi red herring didn t have the usual payoff.
7 Too Two many plots 8 Too hard on Leviticus I will answer these in a moment, but first I must declare that I am an unrepentant fan of this book This is one of the rare times when I long for goodreads to have half grades, because I would love to give this 4.
5 I can t give it a full 5, though, because I sense Mr Larsson s series is going to grow in his last two books And nowback to the top eight complaints 1 Perhaps, but how can a book whose original Swedish title is Men Who Hate Women avoid misogyny It can t But at least the misogyny present is a comment on misogyny Larsson isn t being misogynist He s attacking misogyny Moreover, our hero, Mikael Blomkvist, is not one of the men who hate women He is a pretty good guy, actually in fact, he s one of the rare guys I would actually categorize as a good guy in most modern literature Surehe s a bad Dad Surehe has a failed marriage and many sexual relationships Surehe makes some decisions that challenge his ethics But he remains a good guy He tries to do well in an ugly world He never succumbs to cynicism And he genuinely cares about all the people in his life Male and female And it s not like Berger and Salander are weak women far from it There may be misogyny in Men Who Hate Women, but it is wholly the characters misogyny those who have it and not the author s.
2 With apologies to my friend who s first name starts with T Clich , smich Yes there s some clich maybe plenty of clich but who cares Seriously We re not talking about Proust here We re talking about a mystery novel, a serial killer who dunnit Complaining about clich in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is like complaining about pinko sympathies in The Communist Manifesto.
There s communism in Marx Really You think 3 7 Yep There s a couple of distinct plots here, but there s a level of verisimilitude to that Have even our banal lives ever had anything important happen without something else important occurring at the same time Not mine, and to have multiple incidents happening simultaneously makes sense to me The search for Harriet Vanger wasn t hampered at all by the Wennerstr m drama, and vice versa And to be honest, I loved having a pair of mysteries solved in the same novel 4 Too disturbing compared to what It s nowhere near as disturbing as American Psycho, and it s about average as far as the serial killer genre goes Plus, I think there is a power in the graphic moments of this novel, particularly Lisbeth s vengeance on her guardian I am not on her side when it comes to this vengeance, but I understand it, and the drive to take vengeance in such a way such a human way fascinates me Who d have thought, besides maybe my friend Manny, that the Swedes have it in them 5 Perhaps this is true, but at this point I have only read one of the trilogy, and the only person who suggested that Lisbeth was autistic was Mikael, and while he thought she was suffering from Asberger s his guess was only in passing I can cut the book some slack here suspend my disbelief, suspend my disbelief.
6 I was stoked that, for once, the Nazis were a red herring rather than the ultimate, degenerated evil We all expect the Nazis to be the worst of the worst, so it is refreshing to see them as a deflection instead 8 Can anyone really be too hard on Leviticus Ummmmmnope.
Now, I admit that I might love this novel simply because it is set in Sweden After all, I do love ABBA, Fredrik Ljungberg, IKEA my apologies , gl gg, Stellan Skarsg rd, Max von Sydow, Ingmar Bergman, and Mats Sundin I looked into emigrating to Sweden but had no excuse, being a resident of Canada with no skills the Swedes were looking for, and I am a fan of Norse Mythology, but I do love Sweden, and I was jazzed by the setting of Larsson s book All that aside, however, I think The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a compelling, entertaining and unabashedly thrilling read.
If you can overlook the eight complaints, or consider them in a different light, you ll like this book too I promise.
Alternate Cover Edition ISBN ISBN An International Publishing Sensation, Stieg Larsson S The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Combines Murder Mystery, Family Saga, Love Story, And Financial Intrigue Into One Satisfyingly Complex And Entertainingly Atmospheric NovelHarriet Vanger, A Scion Of One Of Sweden S Wealthiest Families Disappeared Over Forty Years Ago All These Years Later, Her Aged Uncle Continues To Seek The Truth He Hires Mikael Blomkvist, A Crusading Journalist Recently Trapped By A Libel Conviction, To Investigate He Is Aided By The Pierced And Tattooed Punk Prodigy Lisbeth Salander Together They Tap Into A Vein Of Unfathomable Iniquity And Astonishing Corruption