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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Series) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, September 16, 2008
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I also find that there is too many characters, in my opinion a lot of unnecessary characters, and their names are so complicated and very much alike That is difficult to follow up, I understand it is a Swedish book but Simplicity is very valuable. I wish both Lisbeth and Blomkvist worked more closely together as it is they barely communicate and is mostly from a few computer frases.
As they are the books are very complicated, a little boring and so much is unnecessary.
The two central characters are well fleshed out. Even the bizarre appearance and behavior of Lisbeth Salander becomes nor only acceptable but also understandable. Mikael Blomkvist, the ostensible protagonist (or is the titular "girl with the dragon tattoo" the true protagonist of this novel?), receives a great deal of attention from the author, but his role is more expository rather than a study in character. Lisbeth Salander is very much a study in character, and even though she is missing from key scenes, even large swaths of the book, yet her brooding presence never disappears entirely.
This truly was one of those rare books you never wanted to end, and even through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo stands well on its own as a novel, I look forward to reading other books in the series.
The young female lead is a loner, who is mad at the world and has a general distrust of men. She is a psychologically damaged person and although it’s never delved into, she may have some form of autism. Her talents as a computer hacker and private investigator so immense that she does not seem like a person operating in real life. Her character would be more appropriate in a story set in a superhero universe.
A large portion of the Larrson’s book is about the crooked dealings a Swedish financier. These passages come off as flat because he is never a fully developed as a character. He is more of a bogey man.
The main story is about the investigation of the whereabouts of a girl from a wealthy family, who mysteriously disappeared in the 1960s. The plot meanders because it’s bogged down with way too many potential suspects who are mostly from her old-money family. The resolution of this story feels like it should be the ending of the book. However, there are multiple chapters that follow that seem more like an epilogue and are a chore to get through.
Top international reviews
If you want to watch the films, the original Swedish films are the best, a film of each of the three books. The Hollywood travesty with Daniel Craig isn't worth the effort.
I had to start this book twice before I finally managed to read it through. The pace for the first half of the book is very, very slow. This combined with an unusually "choppy" writing style, which I assume may be down to translation can make breaking the barrier on this book quite challenging, so much so that you will no doubt be tempted to give it up and be left wondering what all the hype was about but this would be a mistake in my opinion.
Once the book "got going" it engaged me fully, I found myself wanting to read on and on. Perhaps the most striking difference between this novel and those I usually read is the unpredictability of the characters. Stieg Larsson manages to create characters which SHOULD be dislikeable e.g. Michael is a man who sleeps around and believes any woman, married or not is fair game and Lisbeth is an anti-social misfit with no little emotional intelligence, but nonetheless you do like them and you want to read on to see what happens with each of them next.
The background of the book being set in Sweden adds an unusual backdrop to the novel, and whereas I've historically found anything set outside of the US or UK difficult to get involved in, this wasn't the case here - probably due to the very descriptive nature of Larsson's writing, which I admit at times can be a little TOO much but ultimately I as grateful for as it allowed me to get a much better "feel" for the surroundings of the characters and made the read on the whole, much richer.
The story itself is about a disgraced journalist (Michael Blomkvist) who winds up conducting an investigation into a cold case missing person investigation for a wealthy, old media tycoon. During his investigation he crosses paths with Lisbeth Salander, a private investigator who has been declared mentally incompetent by the state but is infact a computer genius with very little social savvy. When the two characters finally meet and team up to solve the mystery, the real "chemistry" happens and you'll stop wondering what the hype was about and start wondering when you should download/buy the second book.
In short, this is one of the best novels and certainly one of the most unique (along with the next two books) I've read in several years. Don't be put off by the unusual writing style or the slow start as if this turns out to be a novel you love or hate, you'll at least be able to say you've read one of the most popular "cult" authors of this century as Larsson has undeniably become.
There are some scenes of a gruesome nature (which can be skim read if you prefer as you really just need to know it happens rather than the details) some of which don't appear necessary to the book but will become clear if you read the other two books in the series, which are also totally awesome.
The number of characters from the same family can get a little confusing but bear with it, it is so worth it.
The scene setting seemed to take so long that I nearly gave up. I need now to apologise to the author as the scene setting was very necessary. The pace picks up about one third of the way through and after which the story boils up to a crescendo ..... and I didn't spot the outcome.
The sub plot takes over which forms a rather satisfying diminuendo sequence and a finale which though not sickly sweet was probably a realistic one which allows a sense of closure to the book.
I really like it. The language was easy to gallop through, the plot built well and was well thought out. Parts were a little far fetched to my mind but it was only minor things here and there and it would be churlish to suggest that a total suspension of one's sense of reality was required.
I'd recommend this to those who like crime thriller novels
The two main protagonists of the story are Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. Two exceptionally different people from two very different walks of life, but who are both exceptionally gifted people brought together in the quest to solve a decades old murder mystery. Mikael's career as publisher of political magazine, Millennium, is in ruins after losing a libel case following the publication of allegations about billionaire industrialist, Hans-Erik Wennerström. Following this case, he is invited to the home of Henrik Vanger, retired CEO of the Vanger Corporation.
An investigation into the life and background of Blomkvist has already been conducted by Salander, a brilliant but troubled researcher and hacker, and the investigation pulled up that Blomkvist was a man of conviction and ethics in his career. Seeing that his involvement in the Wennerström was out of character, Blomkvist is offered a job by Vanger to solve a decades old mystery that has plagued him and his family; who killed his Grandniece, Harriet? Following this the story turns mostly to Salander, offering us a glimpse into her troubled upbringing and current situation.
Salander was ruled to be legally incompetent as a child and put under the legal guardianship of Holger Palmgren, of whom Salander was very fond as he never treated her as incompetent and always showed her respect. When Palmgren suffers a stroke, he is replaced by Nils Bjurman. It is soon discovered that Bjurman is a sadist, who uses his position as Salander's legal guardian to abuse his power over Salander.
I won't explain much more of the story for fear of spoiling it. The two main characters are eventually brought together as Salander is employed as a research assistant to help in his task to discover what happened to Harriet. This is all well and good, but I found myself wondering whether this whole thing actually worked. Of course, it's well established in the novel that Salander is much more cunning than those around her give her credit for, and this is why she is brought in to assist as a researcher, yet I found myself struggling to understand the relationship between Salander and Blomkvist and how this 'worked'.
The relationship was never really explained. Within seconds of them meeting, this girl who had never let anyone get close to her without freezing up, was suddenly allowing Blomkvist to touch her and laughing along with her. The story touched upon the fact that he treated her 'differently' but this never really worked as an explanation. There was also a brief hint that Salander may have Asperger Syndrome, but again, this was only really left to a fleeting remark and not much else, so it was never really confirmed one way or the other.
The book overall dealt with very complex themes and ideas. It handled them mostly well and told a reasonably good story, the problem seems to be that the story started with this epic plan of telling a story about sexual abuse, financial fraud, serial killers etc. but there was very little conviction to keep it all going. The overarching thread of the Wennerström Affair that was the ultimate reason Blomkvist took up the job with Vanger in the first place was wrapped up in a rushed final few chapters.
The book was good, but could have been much better given the number of seeds that were planted in the early chapters. Sadly, not all of those seeds realised their fully potential.
If this book was just about the murder mystery and the other things were left out, then it would be 4 stars. But as it is, I can only give it 3 stars.
So, there is a good book here. There is a compelling heroine. But I could not get past the fact that the book is about twice as long as it needs to be. They say that the English language version struggled to find a publisher before it became an international bestseller and I can see why. My editor's head was mentally crossing out sentences, paragraphs, entire chapters of unnecessary frame story that detracted from the real mystery: the who and why of Lisbeth Salander.
If the book perhaps had been less successful, less oversold, I might have given it another star. I am being stingy. But I struggled to make it through this, entirely skimming vast parts of the last third until the end. It is a pity that the success of the book as it is means it will never have found the editor the writer richly deserved in his lifetime.
200 pages later and my enthusiasm for reading what is essentially a humongously long newspaper report was beginning to wane. There is no prose here. Just a calm, sober and balanced reporting of the facts and the facts are somewhat mechanical to say the least. This makes for easy reading, but it also makes for dull reading. Absolutely nothing happens in this book until page 265, and that's half the blinking novel gone. OK we get the main characters introduced and have our fill of background info, develop a little empathy (and I do mean a little), but it's very much by the numbers. The problem is that nothing in this initial marathon is learnt through juxtaposition, intrigue or cunning exposure. So the salient facts and plot devices are revealed with a dead weighted clinical exposition. Hence I found myself distractedly eyeing a newly arrived copy of George R.R. Martins - A Clash of Kings, sat enticingly on my desk and wondering how Tyrion Lanister will fair at Kings Landing, when I should have been concentrating on the book that was rapidly slipping from my fingers due to the fact that unfortunately the principle character was only interested in telling me about nothing more stimulating than his nocturnal reading material and sandwich fillings.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo herself Lisbeth Salander, poses a problem as well. What she does solves the mystery, but what she's capable of doing could have been done by any secondary geek character. My point being that she's not critical to the plot, she's just the device to help solve it. And her own personal story ark, whilst harrowing is not essential to the story either. What would have saved both Salanders role in this book and indeed made Blomkvists journey more palatable would have been a shovel load of character development. Unfortunately even continental drift is faster than the character development in this novel.
If this sounds a little harsh, then maybe it is, but it's deserved because this book is frustrating it's construction ought to be much better. So why do people rave about this novel? Perhaps because under all the layers of finely honed and Ikea flat packed apathy there is a great story in here. Vangers plight mixed in with his leverage over Blomkvists need to confound Wennerstrom's empire is a great set up. There are deft touches. The use of photos in revealing the truth and Blomkvists initial meeting with Salander are a couple of good examples of where Larson hits the mark perfectly. But it's repeatedly let down by what seems to be a literary malaise. In other areas large parts of the novel feel like a first draft.
At about page 100 I was ruminating over the story so far and I made a guess at what had happened to Harriett. 400 hundred pages later and that guess turned out to be completely 100% accurate. Now that really shouldn't happen and if more effort had been spent earlier in the novel it wouldn't have happened. The book does hit it's stride in the last 200 pages. It does finally come to life and there then becomes a genuine need to turn the page with pleasure as you begin to will the characters to win out, but by that point it's not enough to redeem itself completely. It's still not quite there. You end up wanting to give the plot itself a good slap, when in fact that is not the problem as the plot has been just as badly let down by the ambivalent construction as the reader has.
This is a good book it should get 5 stars but it simply doesn't deserve it, due to the way it has been constructed and written. Would I recommend this book to a friend? I don't know. I'd like to but then I would know what I'd be subjecting them to in order to extract the story from it and that would be unfair.
It's a great story struggling to get out of a mediocre novel. It puts me in mind of a famous sketch that Eric Morecambe once did with Andre Previn, in which upon hearing Eric's performance of Grieg's piano concerto, Previn complained to Eric that he was playing all the wrong notes. To which Eric replied, 'Listen mate, I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order.'
The Girl with the Dragon tattoo, has a similar problem. All the right notes are in there somewhere, it is a great story, but it's been written in completely the wrong way.