‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ (book): Reviewed.
Ok, before I start this I should probably explain why I’m not carrying on with the chapter by chapter review. Truth is that by the time I started actually writing them, I was about half way through the book and getting through it at a vicious pace. Had I actually used my brain and started writing every review after I finished the chapter from the beginning, then I’d probably still be doing them. The trouble was that after a while I got so immersed in it that it just wasn’t going to happen, but hey-ho I tried, right? That, and I was reading most of the chapters on the bus to and from college, so it became a bit impossible to review every chapter straight after I finished reading it. Another reason it became so difficult to review this book in that way was because about the first half of the book consisted of absolutely nothing to write a decent review about. I thought it would be easy because, hey, a lot tends to happen in a chapter, right? WRONG. And with that, I think this a good point to start of this review.
I’ve heard an awful lot about these books. An awful lot, especially just how good they are. I also know a couple of people that have seen the Swedish film adaptation and had a lot to say about it, namely that scene between Lisbeth & Bjurman. But, that was the film, which is usually very different from the book, and I’m gonna try and keep the two separate.
Like I said before, about the first half of this book is just… well, boring. I feel dreadful saying that seeing as it gets just so mind numbingly good, but it’s true. I mean, it’s very well written and extremely well planned and thought out, and if you’re a fan of back story and detail, then this book is most definitely for you. I’m not saying that detail is a bad thing in a book, because it’s not, it’s very important. But what it seems like Stieg Larsson has done is focus a lot of his time and attention of telling us a lot of stuff that we don’t necessarily need to know. I don’t know, it’s difficult. On the one hand its brilliant, because it allows you to get completely 100% immersed in this story, which I like in a book. For me, it’s no good if the underlying story isn’t solid and well thought out, because after a while it becomes easy to pick out the flaws which takes the edge off things. But there’s a line between a good amount of detail and back story and just pumping stuff in that is completely irrelevant. For instance, there’s a lot of detail on the ins and outs of a company and stuff like that, and by the time you get to the end of the book it’s just like, “Really? I had to wade through all that junk to get here? Why?!” If I had to negatively criticize this book then this would be the only thing I’d have to say. There is just too much irrelevant crap at the beginning and a few times I just completely lost interest.
Anyhow, away with the negatives and on with the positives! This is hands down one of the best books I have ever, ever read, and I’ve read my fair share of books. If nothing else, the characters in this book are enough to completely blow you away. The attention to detail in making these people as interesting as possible is astonishing. Where Mikael Blomkvist is concerned, Larsson has created a very real character, who’s story is believable and realistic, despite being very dramatic at the same time. But it all balances out, and it’s clear that Blomkvist is a normal guy with a very good job. It sounds weird by referring to him as ‘normal’ when it kind of seems like he isn’t because of what he was to go through. But, Larsson has done well in portraying Blomkvist as, well, a typical man, in a lot of ways. What makes it better is that Larsson knows what he’s talking about – he was editor of the Swedish Trotskyist journal, so you know that everything journalistic and political in this book is truthful and not just researched for the sake of having an interesting story line.
Where Lisbeth Salander is concerned, I was just completely blown away. Completely. What Larsson’s managed to do is create a fierce heroine that everybody wants to belike, but nobody actually wants to be. She has had the roughest life; being declared mentally incompetent and being appointed a guardian(s), not being totally accepted by her boss, co-workers, and just society in general, and of course, her experiences with men. They have no doubt been the worst. But just the way she deals with everything that life throws at her… she is just so badass! In every way! She is without a doubt one of my favourite characters ever to be created, and that’s saying something. Just the way she is had me anticipating every bit of the book that followed her life, just because most of the time it was so much more interesting.
The overall tone of this book is basically dark and depressing, to put it simply. Literally translated from its Swedish title, this book is called ‘Men who hate women’, which pretty much sets you up for the entire book. It is almost entirely about complete misogynists whose life’s work is focused on making women miserable and/or raping and murdering them. Basically if you’re looking for a light read or a chick-flick steer very clear of this book. That’s not to say it’s a bad book, though. You’ve just got to accept the fact that you’re going to read about rape. And in one particular case, you’re going to read about quite graphic rape. Because of this, it is at times difficult to read because the stuff that Larsson’s describing is just completely unimaginable and brutal, but at the same time you kind of have to read it because it’s important for developing the story and the characters in the book.
Then there’s the other element of this book – murder. The whole plot is that Blomkvist and Salander are hired to solve the murder of 16 year old Harriet Vanger, which had happened some 40 years before. This whole investigation is so well thought out that it’s hard to believe it’s not based on a real story. It’s true – the whole thing with the various murders of other women and bible verses, it was just brilliant. I’m not usually the biggest murder mystery fan (which is because it normally freaks me out a bit, not gonna lie), but… I dunno, it was just so so good. And when they finally figure out who the murderer is… well, I think I was at home when I read it and was both mentally excited and shocked but disgusted at the same time. And I’m sure a little squeal came out. So there, if you ever read the books, don’t expect it to be the obvious person, because it isn’t! That, and when he finally reveals what’s happened to Harriet… oh. my. god. I read that part on the bus and had absolutely no-one to share that moment with, I couldn’t believe it.
Overall, this book is just phenomenal. Even if it does start off really, really slowly, it’s completely worth the however many pages you have to go through to get to the really exciting part. I highly, highly recommend reading it. Read the whole trilogy, I’m halfway through the second one and I’ve been hooked from the first page! But that’s all to be put in another review. For now, get reading this book goddamn it!