The one tragic thing about this book and its subsequent follow ups is the fact that Larsson never lived to see his series realise its success. I’m sure he would have been proud of his work, it’s a success for a reason and that reason is his passion in his writing.
Any who, onto the book.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is about the peculiar Lisbeth Salander and sullen Mikael Blomkvist. Salander absolutely refuses to be pigeonholed into any type of category. She could be a role-model for strong independent women yet her absolute stubborn refusal to accept labels or reveal much about herself shoots down even that much deserved accolade.
Blomkvist however is a less complex character. He’s a journalist dedicated to his work and when he finds himself in a bit of bother, such as being found guilty of libel, he reluctantly takes on a job offered to him by the elderly but no less manipulative Henrik Vanger.
With one last bid of desperation Vanger hires Blomkvist to discover who murdered his niece, Harriet Vanger, in 1966. Given the cover story of writing a history of the Vanger family, their name does have notoriety in the business world after all, Blomkvist has the excuse of delving deep into its gnarled and ugly history.
While he’s discovering a background of Nazism, drunkenness and domestic violence Salander is dealing with her own problems in the form of Advokat Nils Bjurman. In an enigmatic twist of events (which you will discover in The Girl Who Played With Fire) Salander was declared incompetent and her assets controlled by a guardian.
As a result Bjurman appeared in her life and began taking advantage of her until finally he went too far by raping and almost killing her. However he forgot to account for the fact that no one takes advantage of Lisbeth Salander and gets away with it. After she exacts her revenge she and Blomkvist soon cross paths and they work together to solve the case.
Well that’s basically the gist of it and I have to say that even though I knew what happened thanks to the film I was absolutely hooked. Larsson drew me in with his writing skill and kept me hooked with the twist and turns however he had a way of making me feel informed even while I was kept in the dark. (Or at least I would have been).
This was my first foray out of the fantasy genre in a very long time and I’m glad to have done so with this soon-to-be classic. While Blomkvist and Salander can both be quite annoying and never really manage to find a way to burrow themselves into the heart of the reader they are two amazing characters.
Blomkvist is obviously, to Larsson, the epitome of the perfect journalist yet his dedication to his work and the miraculous breakthroughs he makes with regards to the photographs do seem a bit far-fetched (yes far-fetched for a fantasy nerd like me, I’m aware it sounds bit hypocritical).
However, if I were to have qualms about any character it’s Salander. She has been flagged as one of the most unusual heroines yet I’m not sure she can fall into that category. She’s a protagonist yes, but she’s never struck me as heroic. Larsson took the care to make her human, yet she comes across as a little too human. She strikes as someone who would much rather live a hedonistic lifestyle than do much else. Stubborn to the extreme her only redeeming feature is that she is the perfect opposite of Blomkvist. While he trusts almost everyone she trusts almost no one.
In spite of characters that fail to endear themselves the plot and the story are amazing, I guessed straight away when watching the film that Harriet Vanger was still alive and it failed to offer much resistance to that theory, however the book does as much as possible to stop that theory from formulating fully.
While there are quite a few tangents in place to throw you off the trail it’s not enough to distract from the overall story.
My only problem is Larsson’s persistence to refer to his characters by their surname. Now, considering he was a journalist it’s not surprising he fell into this habit. But it’s so annoying. He introduces them by their first name like once and then starts with the surname thing so that when he finally uses their full name again you’re like ‘who the hell is that?’ or ‘whoa, they’re female?’
I definitely recommend this book to anyone, even if they’re not really into crime or thriller novels. However if you feel like going straight onto The Girl Who Played With Fire, I suggest otherwise. It becomes a chore and it really isn’t as good as the first.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to change Any One Book a little bit. I’ve decided that a month is a really long deadline to give for a book (so much so that I not only finished the first book but also the second and I’m fast approaching the halfway point of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest). So I think on the 3rd of every month I will announce the next book I’m reading and upload a review as soon as I’m done.
As for this month, I will be reading Inheritance, it’s the final instalment of the Inheritance Cycle, which is about the desperate struggle to free Alagasia from the tyranny of Galbatorix and this month it finally comes to its conclusion.