Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Julie's Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Summary: Once you start The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, there's no turning back. This debut thriller--the first in a trilogy from the late Stieg Larsson--is a serious page-turner rivaling the best of Charlie Huston and Michael Connelly. 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.

Review: I'm pretty much of the opinion that if you haven't heard of this novel/trilogy, you live under a rock. Even my mom has heard about it! I know that a lot of reviews have been focused on Lisbeth Salander, the heroine, in the books, but for me The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is really Mikael Blomkvist's story. Lisbeth is intermixed in the beginning and does become crucial about halfway through but she's not the story in the book.

To me the book was about a couple things: 1) The mystery of Harriett Vanger's disappearance/murder and 2) Mikael's case against Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Most of the book is spent dealing with Harriett's case and boy was it an interesting one. I love how rich, well-to-do families have the most skeletons in their closets. It makes for great fun reading. The Vanger clan has deep and dark roots in Sweden. You see there was a faction of the family that was heavily involved in the Swedish Nazi movement. Thank goodness the book didn't really follow that trail.

Mikael was a fantastic researcher and ended up caring about the family more than any journalist should to maintain professionalism. I believe this is one of the reasons I liked him as a character. He's a good person. He's not just digging for an answer and be damned the consequences. I also really enjoyed Henrik Vanger, the patriarch of the family. The disappearance of his niece has haunted him for 40 years and helped shape how he viewed his other family members.

Lisbeth Salander is introduced in the beginning of the book but she doesn't become an integral part of the book until later. I'd tell you how but no, I want you to read the book. She's a mystery. She's brilliant with a computer but can't deal with human emotion or contact. She's got anger and anti-social issues abound. I have a feeling that this is what will get her into trouble in The Girl Who Played With Fire. She is definitely a mystery and that is what makes her so intriguing and for me, ultimately likable.

If you are looking for a fast-paced, well-crafted, exciting novel; you should pick up The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. I know I picked it up after hearing all the buzz about it. I will say that this one lives up to all the hype. I will say I wasn't keen on the end but that's just because I wanted it to end my way.

I have a few books to read before I read the 2nd book in the trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire but I will read it this summer.

Final Take: 4.75/5



Jenn June 9, 2010 at 11:50 AM  

I hear this is one of those "You either love it our can't finish it books"... glad you loved it, Jules.

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