I put it off for a long time because (I'm embarrassed to admit) of the size. I love big books, don't get me wrong, but I love new books more, and tend to prefer to speed through three shorter ones in the time it takes to get through one massive tome. You might say I'm a tad impatient. But the other week, when I was trying to decide what to read, my fiance - who reads about four books per year and has managed to read this one - insisted I pick up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, coz he liked it so much. So I relented. I was curious to know what all the fuss was about.
I'd heard from the fiance, and others, that the first quarter is pretty slow going. And it really was. There were a few times when my eyes glazed over from boredom. While it laid the groundwork for the whole book (and, I'm assuming, the whole series), not a lot happens in the way of plot. Sure, we meet the main characters, but it takes an incredibly long time for them to finally meet each other and get things going. Even seemingly minor characters are given a detailed history, which I could appreciate on one level but also found quite tiresome on another, as I waited for the main story to start rolling. When it finally does, it's definitely a page-turner. It's an awesome mystery, with a fantastic cast of suspects and a fascinating set of clues.
But what really kept me turning the page was the chemistry between the two protagonists, Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. As I mentioned, it takes awhile for them to hook up, but it's worth the wait. They work amazingly together, and I have to admit, though it made me impatient, the slow build to their meeting lays a strong foundation for the characters, both individually and as a team. I really liked Blomkvist, but like so many others it was Lisbeth Salander who really stole the show for me. She's definitely a strange and unique character, but she's super strong, got a lot of 'tude and can do some pretty clever things with a tattoo needle (this is significant in a spoilery way).
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo doesn't shy away from violence, and though I was prepared for some brutal scenes, they still managed to shock me. Certain parts are incredibly uncomfortable to read - as they should be - and while initially I thought it was unnecessarily graphic, these details did make events that unfolded later (and the reader's understanding of certain characters) all the more powerful. It is the kind of book that stays on your mind even when you're not reading it, with the kind of characters you champion forever.
Spoilery Talking Points
- I loved discovering what really happened to Harriet. I suspected just about every character of murdering her at some point, and it's to Larsson's credit that both twists - who was responsible for Harriet's disappearance, and what actually happened to her - came as surprises to me. While both things did cross my mind, there were so many other possibilities that I wasn't really expecting them. I love a good twist!
- Maybe I'm dense, but I didn't really get what Salander was doing with the bank accounts at the end - or maybe I should say, I didn't get why she was doing it. I felt that wasn't really explained properly. Perhaps it's covered in the next book?
I'd seen the trailer for the upcoming English language adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a few times before reading it, so I pretty much had the entire cast stuck in my head while reading the book.
Get It: Better World Books