Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

If I had to define this novel in one word it would be intrigue. There are layers of secrets that journalist Blomkvist is drawn into uncovering. Every truth he reveals leads him further down a dark tunnel in search of more answers. The novel is set in Sweden with two main threads – a family mystery and a corporate mystery – that bring Blomkvist and a young P.I. into an unlikely alliance.

I liked the character development and third person point of view in which the story is told. The narrative has several breaks within a chapter that visually signal a switch to another character. The narrator was at least semi-omniscient and could get inside the heads of characters, telling us what they thought and felt. It worked well and provided some irony. I feel mixed about Blomkvist’s characterization. Some of the women threw themselves at him and he gladly slept with them. It was a bit unrealistic. I really liked Salander, a.k.a. the girl with the dragon tattoo, and her quirky off-kilter personality. For the most part, the characters seemed like real individuals with personal problems like anybody else.

The writing was good and the book fun to read. One small annoyance was the foreign names. Usually, that sort of thing doesn’t bother me but these names were hard to keep straight because several characters go by more than one name/nickname. We call guys named William, Bill, which doesn’t make much sense. So, imagine such nicknames in a foreign language. For the first half of the novel I was trying to remember who people were and should have written their names down. There were a few spots that broke out of the normal narration, moments not exploring a character’s thoughts or actions, which felt like an unnecessary political spiel. It would have been enough to let the characters' thoughts about a situation stand on their own and left the narrator’s commentary out. But these out-of-character harangues were fairly brief and were not a big downer overall. It was nearly two hundred pages before I was hooked because, generally speaking, I am not that interested in financial scandals, with which the novel opens. But by page 200 I had to know the ending. There was a fairly intense scene that I didn’t see coming that kept me turning pages. After the cases were summed up I wanted to know more about the main characters. I am even interested in reading the sequel (not for awhile though. These are some big heavy books) so The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a thumbs up for me.

THE MOVIE COMES OUT MARCH 19th IN SELECT THEATERS!! If you see the movie please let me know how it is. I live in a small town and will be lucky to see it on the big screen. Here's a link to the trailer:
Publisher: Knopf, 2008 (originally in Swedish in 2005)     Source: IC Public Library
Rating: 3.5 Stars                                                                Pages: 465

1 comment:

  1. I've wanted to read this book for a while because it's gotten a lot of very good reviews, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. I'm glad you gave me the tip about names, though--I'm really have a difficult time with keeping a lot of different names straight in my head, so I'll have to watch out for that.