119 of 144 people found the following review helpful
Among the Minority
, November 25, 2009
This review is from: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Series) (Paperback)
Looking at all the rave reviews online by both customers and professional reviewers, I feel like I somehow missed the boat. Only the NY Times review made me feel that I wasn't alone in my dislike for this book, even though when I started I had very high hopes and wanted to like it.
A lot of people have already outlined the plot, so I won't go into it here especially since it's rather complex in and of itself.
Personally, what set me off at first from the book is the writing style. It is how one would write an article for a newspaper, magazine, etc.; succeint and to the point. Which of course makes sense looking at the fact that the late author was a reporter. But what feels wrong to me is the fact that he spends so much time telling. Everytime I started to get an image in my mind about what a house, village, person looked like, it could never fully form because I was essentially being told the basic outline and that's all. This writing style is not immersive to me, nor were the parts where plot advancements/clues are literally bashed over the readers head just in case we really are as obtuse as Herr Larsson seems to suspect.
I found both lead characters rather stiff and lacking any sort of defining personality. Mikael Blomkvist, the male lead, apparently is so hot that every women wants to have sex with him and a vast majority end up loving him. He has been a serial adulter for over twenty years with one woman, losing his own marriage to this affair and also takes on other women on the side. He really seems to have no regard for any of his sexual partners and believes that sex is merely a recreation and its your fault if you even dare suggest it be thought of as something more. Several times in the novel he makes incredibly dumb desicions and at the climax of the main mystery he makes one of the stupidest mistakes, something so brazenly foolish that you wonder if he was given any brains at all.
Lisbeth Salander, the female lead is a little more sympathic but Larsson seems focused on making every bad thing in world that is possible happen to her. This is a spoiler, but seeing that it has been mentioned all throughout the reviews here I'll go ahead: there is a graphic rape scene regarding her. While, supposedly, the rapist returns in the second book, it still seems completely out of place and unnecessary. It does nothing to further the plot/story whatsoever. To make matters worse the whole sequence reads like a revenge fantasy rather then what would actually happen to a 24 year old, emotionally impaired woman who was sadistically raped.
These three things mixed together - the writing style, and the two main characters - made for a very subpar reading experience for me. I so wanted to like this book, I thought the plot sounded intense and like a breath of fresh air. Instead, as the centeral mystery wound to it's conclusion, things just got out of control and exited the realm of what could be believed and instead seemed to be used more for shock value.
For those that are worried about reading a translated book, don't be. Yes there are a couple of translator errors and a couple of sentences that aren't just clunky in English but actually don't make sense unless you reorder the words. Other then these small problems though, it's pretty smooth. As someone who has done translation work before, it's hard to be 100% perfect and this is definitely one of the better translations that I've read.
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