Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

From the back of the book:

At once a murder mystery, family saga, love story, and a tale of financial intrigue wrapped into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.
    Harriet Vanger, 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 in to a vein of unfathomable inquity and astonishing corruption.

My thoughts:

Sandwiches.  That is what I remember after reading this book - all the sandwiches Lisbeth and Mikael ate.  For some reason, they were described each time they were made and that stuck in my head as being unnecessary.  Of course on the other hand, I kept thinking to myself, "Why was this series so popular?".  I've only read the first book and though I enjoyed aspects of it, there was nothing to differentiate it from a Dan Brown or James Patterson book, in my opinion.  I enjoy suspense thrillers for what they are - something light to whet my reading appetite (or at least that is what they are for me).  And so, on one level I did enjoy reading Dragon - mainly when it came to figuring out who had "killed" Harriet - I found that mystery to be rather intriguing.  Other than that, the book annoyed me with its portrayal of women: they all seemed to either fall in lust/love with Mikael, or were brutally raped, or were killed.  Lisbeth was an exception for her ability to utilize her inner strength to push forward in spite of her extremely crappy circumstances, which I lauded her for (well, in my mind I did - like when she took revenge on her so-called advocate, Bjurman, who absolutely deserved worse than what she gave him considering what he had done to her and I'm sure countless other women).  And though Lisbeth did fall under Mikael's bewitching spell, she didn't allow her feelings to muck up the investigation/her work.  She saved Mikael's life (from Harriet's "killer") and found herself accepting the fact that having feelings for Mikael would not be the end of the world (of course until she realized that no matter what, Mikael would always remain emotionally and physically involved with his magazine partner, Erika). 

Its weird writing about this book, because I read it ages ago and  I wasn't even sure I wanted to review it.  Looking back on the experience, I do recall staying up all night trying to finish the book in order to find out what happened to Harriet - so I must have enjoyed it somewhat.  And yet, there is just something about the book that just does not sit well with me and maybe it is the portrayal of women, except that Lisbeth is pretty kick-ass, so that is hard to object to.  Suffice it to say, I'm glad  I did finally read this book, but I'm not sure it deserved all the hoopla it received.  Of course, I have heard that the second book is the best, so perhaps that will be the one to change my mind about Larsson. 

Until I decide to pick up The Girl Who Played With Fire, I will dive into Stephen King's latest book, Full Dark, No Stars.

Happy reading!!


Natalie~Coffee and a Book Chick said...

Your first few lines are absolutely hilarious, considering that I also had such wicked cravings for cheese sandwiches and black coffee. Not to mention I also wanted to sleep naked and wake up to answer the door or walk around my house with just a blanket wrapped around me.

I actually really enjoyed this first book, but felt that the next two were decent but didn't have as much punch as the Dragon Tattoo did. I was tooling around on the web one night and learned that this was originally planned to be a ten book series, but the author passed away after writing the first three and only really getting his hands dirty with the editing on the first one. Turns out he had a "heart attack," but conspiracy theorists have their own thoughts -- Larsson was a big writer of all things anti-Nazi, anti-men who abuse women, that people think he was killed. Interesting, huh?

Now I'm off to eat one of those pizza thingys that Lisbeth kept microwaving! :) And the Swedish film of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is amazing!

LindyLouMac said...

My husband has just read all three of these back to back, he claims he had to he was so engrossed! I really must get started on them so I can discuss them with him and other reviewers.

Steph said...

Completely agree with your review. Except for me instead of sandwiches, I kept thinking about IKEA furniture and computer specs since those were clearly two other things Larsson loved talking about in intense detail. Totally don't get why so many people love these books. I read just this first one and really have no interest in reading any of the others.

Lisa said...

I haven't read this one yet but we rented the movie last weekend and it has really stayed with me. So raw. No sandwiches but the brutality of Lisbeth by Bjurman was quite graphic.

Nadia said...

Coffee and a Book Chick - that is certainly interesting to learn about Larsson. Hmmm. It does make you wonder how much farther he could push Lisbeth and Mikael. And of course it does make you wonder about his death and those conspiracy theorists. Thanks for the info!

LindyLouMac - That is the truth - the can be truly engrossing reads. I'm just not sure I want to dive into another one though. Looking forward to your thoughts on this series.

Steph, thank you! Sometimes I feel like I'm the odd woman out when it comes to these bestselling tomes that everyone seems to rave about and that I wind up not liking. AHH! Lucky for me, you also seem to be the odd woman out :) I'm just not getting the allure of these books either.

Lisa, I've heard the movies are great! And yes, I've heard they are graphic. I'm not so sure I'm going to continue with the series - I mentioned I might dive into the second book, but I'm thinking I'm going to skip it. Different strokes, eh?

Tom C said...

I found it a bit of a struggle and I won't be bothering with the other two in the series. Badly in need of a good editor I think!

Anonymous said...

The reading world (especially, but not only, the pop reading world) is so full of applause for this series that I find it refreshing to read something different. Dark, gritty murder mysteries with lots of intrigue are right up my alley, and I do think I'll pick these up eventually (once the hoopla dies a bit) - honestly I find it more intriguing that there's some disagreement! Maybe I'll stop by here to let you know what I think.