Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Buy from the Book Depository
Title: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Author: Stieg Larsson
Translator: Reg Keeland
Publisher: Knopf
Series: Millennium, Book 1
Hardcover: 465 pages
Summary: (taken 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. 
Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

I admit it, I watched the movie before I read the book. (The Swedish version, NOT the American version. The Swedish version is perfectly good and I don't understand why Hollywood decided they needed to make their own.) Because of that, I actually put off reading the novel for awhile -- I didn't think I would be as captivated as I was with the movie, since I already knew what was going on with the mystery Blomkvist is supposed to solve. But, I felt bad not reading the book first, so I gave it a try and I still really enjoyed it.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is about a journalist named Mikael Blomkvist who has been convicted of libel. But, because he's such a thorough researcher, a rich man named Vanger hires him to investigate the disappearance of Vanger's niece, Harriet -- a case that's nearly 4 decades old. He ends up meeting an investigator named Lisbeth Salander, a computer genius with some serious issues. Enlisting her help, the two find that it's sometimes dangerous to dig around in cold cases.

My favorite aspect of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the characterization. I love how Stieg Larsson is able to write in Lisbeth's point of view while still keeping the sort of distance that she keeps with other people. Despite reading the story from her close third-person perspective, I still didn't understand very much about her, and I loved that! She's not the type of person to reveal personal information, so I was glad that I was able to connect with her while still feeling the distance that the other characters felt upon interacting with her. For keeping that distance, Larsson is a genius.

Despite that, the writing style of this book kept pulling me out of the story. I think a lot of the background information could have been edited out, especially when there's just an exhaustive info. dump of the history of various companies and such. Obviously, some of this is necessary to set the scene, but these sorts of passages go on for pages, and are a bit boring.

Other than that, this is a good story. I can see why it's so successful and why people love it. It's has mystery, intriguing characters, and it's a fairly fast-paced read. If you  haven't managed to read this yet (No judgment! I was right there with you.), give it a try. Even with knowing what was going to happen, I enjoyed it.