Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Book Review- Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

I'm sure many of you have heard by now about a brand new trilogy thats been gripping the entire nation (or should I say world); this being the Millennium series, though you may better know it as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series. The latest installment of the series The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest was recently released back in May and is still holding its place as number one on New York Times bestsellers list. Well I actually purchased the U.K. version of the third installment of the series back last October because I had to know what happened next! The series is just that good! I'm pretty sure that sales for all three books will continue to sky rocket for quite awhile and now that there's an American film adaptation of the series underway, we won't see this series dying out anytime soon. Pretty soon all your friends, family and co-workers will be talking about this trilogy so you may want to get reading! In case you really need another person to recommend this book to you, here you go! This review is just going to be on the first book. I'll later review the next two books as well as the Swedish film adaptions of the novels.

First I'd like to ask for you to please bear with me. I read this novel back in 2008 when it was first released in U.S. so everything isn't as fresh in my head. So Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the amazing debut novel by Swedish author Stieg Larsson who delivered this novel along with the next two in the series to his editor right before his unfortunate death in 2004. Stieg Larsson was the editor and chief of the magazine Expo and is a expert on right-wing extremist and Nazi organizations. These factors can be seen glossed all over the novel. The book centers around journalist Mikael Blomkvist of Millennium magazine who gets convicted of libel against billionaire industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. Blomkvist thereafter decides to leave his job at Millennium and soon afterwards gets hired for a unusual freelance job by Henrik Vanger, the former CEO of Vanger Enterprises. Henrik contracts Mikael to investigate an old closed cold case of the disappearance of his neice Harriet Vanger. Harriet is believed to have been murdered 40-years ago when she was sixteen by one of the members of Vanger family, all who are part owners of the Vanger Enterprise.

Before Henrik contracted Mikael, he comissioned a complete background check of Mikael through Milton Sercurity. A peculiar, asocial girl named Lisbeth Salander who works at Milton Security carried out Mikeal's investigation. Lisbeth, though she carries a high level security job, has been deemed incompetent and required to be under constant watch of a guardian given to her by the state. It soon becomes clear to the audience that Lisbeth is anything by incompetent. As a genius computer hacker born with Asperges syndrome and photographic memory, Lisbeth is incredibly resourceful and ruthless at times. Mikael's investigation of Harriet's disappearance eventually lands him to run into Lisbeth and together the two of them unravel disturbing, dark secrets of the Vanger family that roots back to affiliations with Swedish fascist organizations.

I loved Larsson's characterization of our Girl Lisbeth Salandar, a genius, emotionally complex biker chick. It's hard to put into words what her character is like exactly. Its obvious from the beginning of the novel that Lisbeth is not a person you'd be able to easily get along with. She's incredibly frigid and emotionally closed. Larsson describes her as looking like a 14-year old anorexic, goth girl who looks like she'd never be able to defend herself. However, we find our that Lisbeth is a born survivor and can be cold and calculative. She has little tolerance for men exploiting women to violence and will take retribution into her own hands. As an audience member, you get the feeling that Lisbeth must have suffered from some sort of traumatic past to bring her to the way she is now. The second installment in the series shows us more of why Lisbeth is the way she is.

Larsson doesn't shy away from brutality and violence throughout his novel. Be pre-warned that there is an incredible amount of disturbing, sexual violence especially towards women, much of it occurring in the context of religious extremism. As a matter of fact, the direct translation of the novel's title is Men Who Hate Women. There have only ever been three novels I've read in my lifetime that have scared me to the point that I couldn't read it at night and this is one of them. Many of the describes scenes will make you squirm and squeal is you're a girl or will make you feel incredibly awkward if you're a guy. Other theme's that the book deals with include contemporary Swedish society, big corporate enterprises, Nazism, and religious extremists.

The book mostly plays out like a mystery drama and it keeps you constantly intrigued and guessing who the killer could be. Larsson can go into incredible detail when describing individual characters so you have to be able to keep up with him or you may lose track of everything that goes on! You won't be able to mindlessly read this book so if thats what your looking for, this might not be the right book for you. The book provides you with a nice family tree of the Vanger family which helped me a lot in keeping track of who is who. As you go into the next two novels of the series, you will be bogged down be even more names and characters so be prepared for that! The second two novels I'll say are pretty different from the first one. They steer away from the mystery genre and hit you with an exciting crime thriller that deals personally with Lisbeth. Regardless, I found the first novel to be absolutely captivating and I think the character of Lisbeth is brilliant. It is sad and unfortunate that Mr. Larsson was unable to live to see the impact that his books about a girl named Lisbeth Salander had on the world.

Recommended- Final Score 9.5/10

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