4. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

I finally gave in to reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, and I’m still not quite sure how I feel about it. Seeing the movie trailers for both the Swedish version and the new American version tempted me into checking it out from the library, and I knew I wanted to read the book before seeing either movie. I don’t know how I managed to go into the novel without knowing anything about the plot, but all I knew was that there was a girl, Lisbeth, and it was kind of a gloomy story, and there was a mystery.

On the surface, it’s an enjoyable mystery that focuses on Blomkvist’s and Salander’s quest to solve the 40 year old disappearance of Harriet Vanger, but ties in several other stories, including Blomkvist’s personal vendetta against a corrupt Swedish businessman.  Aside from Blomkvist and Henrik Vanger, the male characters were irredeemably misogynistic and often two dimensional. Even Blomkvist, the protagonist wasn’t very well developed, and his relationship with his daughter seemed to be an afterthought. There were several different stories interwoven into the main mystery, and the resolution, while satisfying, dragged on for 60 pages longer than it should have. Nonetheless, it was entertaining and I definitely enjoyed the search for answers to a historical mystery.

Considering the length of the book, sheer number of characters, and the many plot twists, I knew nothing going in. I kind of wish somebody had warned me. Despite my undying love for Law and Order: SVU, I don’t do well with reading about violence against women.  On one hand, I thought the novel was extremely engrossing- I read it in less than 24 hours, and I thought it was an extremely detailed and bizarre mystery. I can see why the novel was adapted into two separate movies, and I’m sure I’ll enjoy them.

On the other hand, I’m left with a distinctly icky feeling about the violence in this book. I know, it’s a summer beach read type novel, a quick and enjoyable mystery, but I found several parts extremely hard to read. There were several pages where I just quickly skimmed, making sure I didn’t miss anything, because I found them extremely disturbing. I understand that when depicting violence against women there will always be critics, and I have enjoyed many movies or TV shows despite extreme violence. I realize that Larsson may have been trying to make a point about sexual assault and violence in Sweden, or simply thought that it would make a good plot point, but I found it off putting.

I’m not sure who I’d recommend this book to, since most of the people I know have already completed the trilogy. I’d most likely recommend it with some reservations. It’s not great literature, but it was an enjoyable, fast-paced mystery, and now I can go watch the movies without feeling guilty for not reading the book.

Pages: 465/1282

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~ by lefaquin on December 27, 2011.

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