Friday, September 6, 2013

Review Me Twice - The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

This is the second time that I've read this book, and as I started to reread it, I realized WHY I liked it.  It's interesting and engaging, and Larsson can draw you in pretty awesomely, if you ask me.  He knows how to give you just the right amount of information.  That's kind of what makes an amazing mystery novel: knowing how to pace it.

I also LOVE Lisbeth Salander.  She's very independent, but still manages to make connections with people in her own way.  I really like when she becomes FRIENDS with people, because it's so hard to break into her little inner sanctum and so few people do it.

However, Larsson's book has a lot of drawbacks.  For one, if you are an American reader (which... on this blog, most of us are), it's a hard book to get into.  I remember the first time I read it, I was so off-put by the opening scene that I almost put the book down.  There's a lot of jargon that we, as Americans, don't really grasp the concept of (we're not really a libel kind of country).  There are also so many NAMES to keep track of in the beginning of the book and they're all very, well, Swedish.

Not to mention, this book is very adult.  There's a multitude of sexual relationships, not to mention rape and... some pretty awful and vicious stuff that happens.  That didn't deter me in particular, but there are a lot of people who wouldn't care for the graphic content.

I still love the book, though, and I'm still glad that I reread it.

My bottom line 4 out of 5.

I'll tell you right off the bat, I didn't finish the book. I feel like I didn't make much of a dent at all, but to be fair, I had to get the large print copy from the library because, even after several years of popularity, it's still flying off the shelves. I know; how do you  not finish a compelling mystery? But it happened. Sorry.

I can attest to the fact that I love the beginning. I've always paid close attention to how an author hooks the audience, because I've always had a hard time myself deciding where and when and with whom my stories should start. This one is great. You expect, from the title and whatever else you know about the book, to jump right in with the titular Girl, but instead you're reading about this guy who gets flowers on his birthday every year. What even? It's great. And that's just the prologue... the first chapter is yet another non-titular-girl scene, talking about some journalist and a court case and whatnot. (Clearly, Cassy and I disagree on this point, because I was totally hooked.)

We do agree on the Swedish names. It's difficult to keep track of lots of characters when their names are entirely unlike those from your culture, unless you're ridiculously familiar with that particular culture. It's why I have a really hard time with Asian literature; I don't know the names well enough to easily discern them. (And I don't pay close attention to names in books in the first place; I can get lost dealing with John and Mike and Sam.)


  1. So I know you guys aren't competing when you post about these books, BUT if you DID:

    Cassy would win.

    I bought this book in 2009, could not even get through the first chapter, contemplated returning it but just through it into a bag. In 2010, I found it, got past that first initial entry and was immediately in love with EVERYTHING.

    I don't think I've read a book that was so immersive, dark (and reveled in the darkness), funny, and interestingly enough, very feminist in a way. Maybe in the next two books you see more of the feminist undercurrents, but the female characters are all super strong, independent, successful, and are given equal antagonist/protagonist traits which I really enjoyed.

    Lisbeth Salander is also one of my favorite literary characters ever created. Just completely different from any other heroine/anti-heroine out there. I found myself completely invested in her and in her development as a person and how this story just kept intersecting her with Mikael.

    Alex, I love you and all, but goddamnit finish this book. And then read the NEXT TWO! They are in no way as good as this first one, but they are great entries.

    Also in my opinion, the Swedish movies are great, but the American version is such an impressive adaptation of the book. I read the book again, a little earlier than this took off and the movie started releasing the cast/pics and its crazy how much my ideas of everything matched the US film. The mood/tone/dialogue is so similar.

    I really LOVED this book as you can see! I wish I could read it again as a first time reader, I mean I literally remember parts of my life punctuated by what parts of this book I was reading.

    Keep up the great blog you two!

    Alex, finish the book!


    1. Chris, we're totally competing. Thank you for voting for the most awesome person on the blog. ;) (Ok, there's no competition, but my feathers did preen a bit when you agreed with my review.)

      You should suggest a book to us, Chris! I remember you recommendations always panned out well.

    2. So the past couple of books that I liked were:

      Gone Girl (no seriously, its super famous now but still really good)
      Child 44
      and Let the Right One In.

      Really liked them all. Gone Girl is being made into a film now with Rosamund Pike (great choice) and Let the Right One In (Swedish book) was made into a Swedish movie, then into a little-seen American movie. Very similar to GWTDT.

    3. Ugh, I read Gone Girl and I HATED it. I mean... I just really wanted her to get her due and she didn't. It was like seeing the bad guy win.

      I've never even heard of the other two but I will most definitely look into them!

  2. Chris, I miss you!

    I am still not sure if I want to read this book or not. I am hesitant because, other than the fact that mysteries are not my forte, I am concerned about the graphic nature of the content. Lots of things don't bother me, but some stuff does. Maybe I need to seek out an excerpt of one of the more graphic parts and see how I feel about it.

    1. Anna, the graphic parts are graphic, yes, but they disturbed me 1000x more in the movie than they did in the book. And what happens in the book doesn't even come close to the most disturbing thing I've ever read. It doesn't even rank on my top ten list.

      If you have a rape trigger, then no, I wouldn't read it, but I'm fairly certain you don't, so I think that you'll be alright.

    2. ANNA! I miss you!

      I agree with Cassy! The disturbing parts of the book are pretty intense, but it doesn't dominate the book. Its unpleasant obviously but it serves as a indicator for what Lisbeth has had to go through during her whole life.

      PLUS, it just sets up for an awesome wicked revenge plot that is crazy. I woulnd't let a few intense scenes prevent someone from reading the whole book.