Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo follows the investigation of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist into the mysterious past of the Vanger family. What they discovered was very surprising and not at all what I expected. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is Stieg Larsson’s first book in the Millennium trilogy. I’m not usually a “mystery” reader, but this was an amazing. It’s more than a mystery novel. Lisbeth and Blomkvist shine a light on serious social issues.

I’ll try to keep this as spoiler free as possible. I won’t talk about specific events (unless someone who has read the book asks in the comments). However, certain implications might be made.

Lisbeth is the character everyone is talking about. Multiple actresses vied for the role when it was announced that a Hollywood version of the movie would be made. I think I can understand why. Lisbeth Salander is unique. If an actress is looking for a strong female lead, possibly the defining role of their young career, this could be the one. Lisbeth is anti-social, anti-police, anti-normal, but she can act normal if she wants. Lisbeth has an intelligence no one can quite grasp and some who doubt that it’s even there. Bad things happen to Lisbeth, they make you wonder how she could ever get over them, but she does. She is stronger and smarter than anyone realizes.

Except, Mikael Blomkvist. Blomkvist is an investigative journalist. He is a journalist who has integrity and accepts the punishment for his actions. He is smart, intuitive and trustworthy. He also sleeps with multiple women by the end of the novel. Blomkvist survives and acts as his morals tell him. He’s strong and can also be kind and understanding. He is really a great counter for Lisbeth Salander.

I know that this is a mystery and the mystery of the disappearance of Harriet Vanger was great. For me, it wasn’t the plot that moved the story along; it was how Lisbeth and Blomkvist moved through the plot. It was their reactions to the different events and discoveries that took the reader to the next step on the road to Harriet Vanger. Regarding the mystery, my first instincts were right. The book tried to convince me otherwise, so I doubted myself along the way, but in the end, I was right. I know I said that I was surprised, but that surprise didn’t have to do with Harriet; it had to do with other characters.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was a mesmerizing story. I only had to minor problems with it. First, Lisbeth and Blomkvist are the main characters, right? It takes ages before they actually meet. I kept waiting and wondering when it was going to happen. Second, after the Harriet mystery is taken care of, the secondary plot of the Wennerström affair has to be resolved. Fine, I understand that. Why did it take so long? I kept waiting, for ages, after what I thought should be the essential end of the novel for the novel actually to end. It’s not that it wasn’t interesting or exciting, I just felt that once Harriet Vanger’s disappearance was solved (the primary mystery), there shouldn’t be so much more novel left.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is an excellent novel. It has complex and interesting characters and an intriguing plot. I’m glad my friends and family peer pressured me into reading it. I was happy to oblige. Now The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest have just been added onto my to-be-read list.


  1. Glad you liked it & thanks for reining in the spoilers for the few of us (is it just me? LOL!) who haven't read it yet. I also succumbed to temptation & have a copy of The Dragon Tattoo on my TBR shelf. It'll probably be a couple of books later before I start it. Atwood is calling me next!

  2. Excellent review Loni.

    Everyone has been absolutely positive about Lisbeth Salander and it's worth a read to see how Larsson pulls that off. On the list...wonder when i'll get to it though.

  3. I had similar issues with this book - too slow to get going, then it wrapped up too early in the end. It really was Lisbeth's character that inspired me to read the second in the series, and I do plan on reading the third.

  4. It seems like there are still a lot of people who haven't read the book yet. My brother-in-law just started it. His girlfriend will start it when he's done. Another friend also just started it. I think because it looks like such a long book, people hesitate to get into it, since there are so many wonderful (and shorter) books to read. It's worth it. Plus, the quality of the writing makes it go fast.

    I've talked to a few people who have read the book that think the beginning is really dry. It's a lot of background information that you need to know to understand what is going on with the book. I actually didn't mind it. I thought it was going to be tough slogging, but it wasn't. It was easy to read, just not "exciting".