Mar 15, 2011

About Books Blog 36: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


Author: Stieg Larsson
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Favorite Line

I rarely have two favorites, but this time I did.

“Now we know,” Blomkvist said as they were re-crossing that bridge. “We’re hunting for the complete lunatic”

“What she had realized was that love was that moment when your heart was about to burst.”

Summary (from Goodreads)

Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch - and there's always a catch - is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson's novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don't want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

What I Thought of This Book

If you want a book with surprising twists and intrigue The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the one for you. Though, those of you who are fond of soft flowery plot lines should be warned. It can be a little gritty. There are also quite a few references to violence towards women. It’s not done for a purposeless reason, and I didn't feel that it was done in a distasteful way. I think the author was trying to state a point that women who suffer abuse don’t have to be dragged down by it, but rather can rise from the ashes and become strong independent people. However, that stuff is in there. If you think that might be upsetting this book shouldn’t be at the top of your To Be Read list.

I compare the book’s plot to that of a roller coaster ride. It takes a while to get going but once it gets rolling its unstoppable. All the set up in the first half is completely necessary. For instance you have to understand Mikael and Lisbeth’s back stories and personalities independently of each other before their plots intersect later on. It is imperative that you glen all the information on the Vanger family before jumping head first into solving the mystery of Harriet’s disappearance. Luckily for the reader the author had a way of making things you would usually find boring, such as business talk or family histories, fairly interesting. Though I must admit chapter nine was a bit of a struggle for me. This is where the bulk of the family history is given. Let’s face it about 90% of the Vanger family is cruel, racist, or just generally evil.

There are some really wonderful characterizations in Dragon Tattoo. Every one of the characters was layered like an onion. It was entertaining to peel back the each layer and see what was there, even if what you found wasn’t all that pretty. I was very fond of the two lead characters. They were the kind of fictional people I found myself strangely missing after the book was over. It's hard to explain what in particular I found so intriguing about Mikael. I think it was that fact that he had such a calm focused demeanor. Even when he was upset he almost seemed calm. I can only describe Lisbeth as awesome. Granted she’s one seriously dysfunctional individual, but that is part of her charm. Understanding the mystery of Lisbeth is half the fun. One thing you learn is that the summary above is not wrong. You really don’t want to mess with that chick. She does pay back very well. Gosh, I wish I had her photographic memory. Ha ha.

The way the book was put together made my jaw drop. There are so many elements involved in Dragon Tattoo. There are at least two main plot lines. Then there are several sub-plots. There are a huge amount of characters involved as well. A fact I had to get used to, but turned out to be very rewarding in the end. I was truly amazed by how well organized the novel was. I seriously don’t know how Stieg Larsson did it. He must have created one crazy awesome outline. I was also impressed by the authors beautiful use of vocabulary and attention to detail. He used very specific descriptions of things down to the brand name. I haven’t noticed many writers doing that before. Overall, I loved this book. I’m so glad that I already have the sequel in my Kindle library. My mother says the second book is an even more exciting read. I can’t wait to see for myself.

Facts I Found Interesting

Stieg Larsson died in November of 2004 leaving the unpublished novels of the Millennium Trilogy. He wrote the novels for his own enjoyment in the evenings after work.

At age 15 Stieg Larsson witnessed the gang rape of a young girl named Lisbeth. This lead to his lifelong abhorrence for violence and abuse toward women. He never forgave himself for failing to help her. This experience inspired the name of the heroine in The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo, as well as the themes represented in the novel.

Larsson acknowledged many American and British crime novelists as literary influences. However, the most surprising influence came from Swedish authoress Astrid Lindgren, and her children’s novel Pippi Longstocking. Larsson based Lisbeth Salander upon his idea of what a grown up Pippi Longstocking would be like.

The Movie

The film is in Swedish, so be prepared to read subtitles. I actually don’t know if any film of this book would be completely satisfying to me. I think they would have to make a nine part mini-series just to get all my favorite elements of the story in. However, the film is a quality adaption which didn’t leave me at all disappointed. I was glad they focused on so many to the important plot points. It was also very true to the characters in both dialogue and casting. I liked how they depicted Mikael and Lisbeth’s relationship. None of the small changes irked me, though I was surprised by some of them. As I said nothing is ever going to be as great as the novel, but I think this movie is as close as you could get.

There is an American version of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in production right now. It is set to be released late this year. It’s going to be directed by David Fincher, who has made some awesome films that are in a similar genre as Dragon Tattoo. So far I like a lot of the casting choices. I’m not sure about Rooney Mara as Lisbeth. I haven’t really seen her in anything so I can’t judge her acting though I’m sure she’s capable. She just seems... I don’t know... too cute faced to play Lisbeth. Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to trust that the makeup and hair people know what they’re doing.

Music To Read By

Favorite Albums

I really didn’t want to be overly distracted by lyrics with this one. Thus, classical music was the music of choice. It totally didn’t fit with the musical taste of the characters, but it is what it is. I loved listening to an album called, The Best Classical Music for Non-Classical People. The name of the album just amuses the heck out me. I used my favorite most fitting tracks from the album as the playlist for the book. Forgive me for just posting the player and not listing all the songs. You see the titles are rather long.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Playlist

Yes! One review down this week one to go. Next week I have the week off for spring break. I can't help dreaming of all the wonderful books I'm going to read. See you later loves. Keep it shiny!

1 comment:

Teacher/Learner said...

I'm so glad you liked this book and the movie, too. It was fascinating and quite unusual for a mystery/thriller. I have the 2nd book waiting on my shelf. Once I blast through my challenges, it's on! And I agree about the casting of Lisbeth in the American movie version--Noomi Rapace was amazing in the Swedish films.