Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Reviews From a Humble Book Nerd (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

I'm always leery of books that get this much attention, but I was still intrigued by this particular one. So here goes!

Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch—and there's always a catch—is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson's novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don't want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.


Here is my review as posted on GoodReads:

I have the sneaking suspicion I might have gotten through this one faster if I hadn't been trying to read it the same time as my sister...

No, strike that, I know I would have gotten through this one faster. I could sum this up in a few words, but they're impolite and unprintable, so I'll go with a detailed review.

First off: The pace was something like a train pulling uphill right out of the station. The first hundred pages moved slowly, bogged down as they were with the setup of financial conspiracy, corporate corruption, and family ghosts, but it built momentum as it went along and then it just wouldn't stop. I couldn't put it down if I tried, and after a few late nights staying up reading I was trying my darnedest just to finish it so I could get some sleep!

Second: It's a good thing the narrative holds your attention, because the plot demands that you pay rapt attention. I have to give Mr. Larsson lots of points for the intricacy of the story, which seems simple enough at first glance but gets more complex than a Shakespearean tragedy the further along it goes.

Now onto the main players in the drama.

Mikael Blomkvist is a financial journalist convicted of libel against a powerful, well-known Swedish executive. He catches the attention of Henrik Vanger, an eighty-something former CEO of Vanger Corporation, who hires him to investigate the disappearance of his niece over forty years ago. Blomkvist is easy to like, and even easier to respect with his strict moral code (at least, when it comes to his profession). He's backed into a corner and in over his head with a puzzle that looks impossible to put together, but he still manages to dog his way out.

Lisbeth Salander is a freelance investigator who comes to aid Blomkvist in his endeavors. She's at first really hard to pity, simply because you can tell she doesn't need anyone's pity despite her situation. She's not someone to cross, but she's definitely the one you want on your side when there's some dirty secret to expose. She's tough, enigmatic, amoral, asocial, and somehow still ended up being my favorite character by the end of the book.

The language isn't too over-the-top, but it's not what you'd use in church. The violence isn't pervasive and it's mostly off-camera, but it's on the graphic, sadistic side of things. It's not for everyone, trust me.

I started this out of curiosity, thinking there was just no way it could be as good as it's hyped up to be, but I'm sold on it. Now onto the next book in the series!

Long story short, I am definitely getting my own copy of this, I will make it a point to see the original movie (the one that did so well in Sweden they released the second one before Dragon Tattoo was even available on DVD), and I plan on seeing the US remake as well. Heck, I might have found a new favorite here!

Your pal,

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