Monday, December 5, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Yeah, I know I'm seriously behind the times.  A few years ago when the entire world was reading this book, people kept asking me if I'd read it yet and what I'd thought and I'd say, "Yeah, it's on my to-read list."  However, my to-read list is about a million books long, and I just wasn't that interested.  It seemed to be one of those love-it-or-hate-it books.  Either people said it was the most amazing thing they'd ever read, or people were totally unimpressed, didn't know what the big deal was and discussed how it was clearly written by a middle-aged man, as no one else could write a book where female characters of various age kept jumping into bed with a middle-aged man.

I finally decided to read it because of the American version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is coming out and I saw the preview and it looked kind of awesome. And since I feel strongly about reading the book before seeing a movie based on a book, it was, at last, time to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  So I did.

In case you've been living under a rock, or work in a field where you primary read YA literature, it is the story of Mikael Blomkvist, a respected journalist who's just been find guilty of libel, which puts a crimp in his career.  Blomkvist is hired by Henrik Vanger, the head of an old and powerful Swedish family to ghost-write his autobiography, but the real reason Vanger hired Blomkvist is to solve a decades old murder of his grand-niece, Harriet, who vanished without a trace in 1963.  Blomkvist joins forces with Lisbeth Salandar, a researcher with a photographic memory and authority issues.

Here's the interesting thing about this book: almost half of it was set-up.  Things didn't actually start happening until more than halfway through the book.  The story is so incredibly detailed that over 200 hundred pages are spent giving us all the background we need in order for the action to really start.  While this was kind of annoying after a bit, I was interested and involved enough (and horrified enough) to want to see where things were going to go, so I carried on and was reward with one royally fucked up story.  Whoa.  Holy shit.  I was so, so, so, not prepared.  How is it that whenever people talked about this book no one ever said, "Oh, P.S., not for the faint of heart."  Or maybe, "Involves graphic violence against women."  Or even, "You may want to throw up at various points while reading this book."  Something.  Anything.  I'd like to have been warned is all.  Because holy shit.  Fucked.  Up.  So disturbing. 

So...yeah.  It was certainly an engaging story.  Lots of twists and turns and near escapes and horrible, horrible things happening to people.  I kept reading, even when I was absolutely horrified, so well done book.  I am now a lot more wary about seeing the movie.  I also don't feel the need to read any of the subsequent volumes.  Unless the movie's really good and then I'll have to, I guess.

In conclusion: graphic violence against women.  A lot of it.  Just be prepared.


  1. I could not read this book. I tried three times and it gave me a freaking headache without even getting to the violence. I just didn't like the main character. He was too much of a idealized mirror of the writer--a middle age man who can openly sleep with his married lover and bed virtually any other woman he meets? Yeah right. And the politics were too overt for my taste.

  2. Yeah, I agree that his sex life seemed to be a bit of a guy's fantasy.

  3. Yikes. Staying away. Thanks for the warning.


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