Author: Stieg Larsson
Synopsis (Courtesy of Powell’s Books):
“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 pieced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.”
Thoughts: Bestsellers are tricky reading, especially after they have been released for a while. One of three things can happen: either one has high expectations and are invariably disappointed, one starts reading the book having already decided that public opinion knows best and that it is worth the hype, or one starts reading with an eye to disprove the hype. While reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I feel into that latter category. Don’t get me wrong; it is not a horrible book. I just do not feel it is as good as everyone was telling me it was.
One of its weakest points is the language and translation itself. Entire passages were extremely clunky, and the fascination with technological details was jarring to the overall story while also dating the book horribly. I find it difficult to believe that Mr. Larsson really meant to define what an MP3 player was or go into details about the type of iBook Lisbeth was using. Also, Mikael was a difficult character to like. For a journalist, he certainly has some decent military knowledge. The brief explanation about his previous military service seemed inadequate. He was surprisingly ethical about his journalistic integrity but rather lax in his personal ethics regarding relationships with women. The two halves just did not mesh very well.
That being said, Lisbeth certainly lived up to the hype. Enigmatic, incredibly intelligent and ferociously independent, she is worthy of anyone’s admiration. That being said, her ethical boundaries were also rather thin, if nonexistent, which made for difficult reading at times. While she was invariably out to help bring down the bad guys, one can easily imagine how vague that definition could easily get. The murder mystery was interesting, if just a little predictable and rather slow. The biggest complaint is that the pacing of the entire story is rather glacial. One wants a suspense to be a little more nerve-wracking from the very beginning and not have to wait until halfway through the novel before the pace picks up.
I cannot be upset I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It is popular for a reason; there were just too many issues I found that prevented me from enjoying the book as much as others have. While Lisbeth is fascinating, I have no desire to read the rest of the series and am satisfied with what little I learned. For once, I’ll satisfy myself with the movies to find out the rest of the story.
Acknowledgements: Mine. All mine.