Reading Log 2019 #8: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson

Yeah, yeah, I know, everybody and their mother read this book years ago. It’s new to me.

But… enough time has passed, my mom raved about this entire series, I generally like Scandinavian cultural things (Black Metal, Church Burnings, Volvos, etc.) and it had been a spell since I dug into a good old-fashioned straight-up Crime Mystery.

I knew absolutely nothing about the books or movies going in, so I was able to enjoy this without any preconceptions.

And enjoy it I did. It’s EXTREMELY Swedish, but I don’t mind that. I can see why the movie didn’t do so good with American audiences, though. The plot is convoluted as hell, and I’m not sure Larsson 100% pulled it off, but it was close enough for me.

I’m not a huge reader of murder mysteries, so I don’t know if the format is common, but I enjoyed that the book basically wraps an entire, separate story around a central mystery. Like, the beginning and ending of the book could be jammed into their own separate story and it would work. It would also have little to do with the main mystery that occupies 80% of the story. Basically felt like I was getting a hell of a lot of story in one book.

There were some things to not like…

The whole “older man rejuvenating himself via a hot younger woman” thing is present here between the two mains and just… *yawn*. Added nothing to the story.

Worse, the (I’d put a spoiler alert here but the book came out fuckin’ years ago, man) rape scene also adds nothing… the book establishes a whole lot of proper reasoning for why Lisbeth is the way she is. The rape scene and revenge story that follow it have fuckall to do with either of the main plots and just felt entirely gratuitous and weirdly cruel.

Those are pretty big negatives for a book that I otherwise enjoyed. I’d like to read the sequels someday, but if more of that shits shows up, I’ll probably set them aside. There is a way to use sexual violence in a novel that actually adds to things, but the way this book does it ain’t it.

That aside, the set of characters and possibilities for future tales the book ends with intrigue me; the two main stories were well-done and had satisfying, almost TOO satisfying, endings in both cases. Leaves me wondering what else could possibly come Lisbeth and Mikael’s way in the sequels that could live up to what they accomplished during their first pairing.

I’ll probably hit the second book sometime this year, so I guess we’ll see.

#books, #reviews