Thursday, October 11, 2012

Literary Bite: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

After seeing it in the hands of metro-riders throughout the DC area, hearing about it from everyone, and seeing trailers for both gristly movies, I finally read Stieg Larsson's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (me = late to the party, per usual).

Maybe my expectations were too high, or maybe this is the Mollie-doesn’t-like-mysteries problem, but I didn’t love it and don’t feel any compelling urge to read the next two books in the series. I was told that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is slow to start but after 100 pages or so I’d be hooked. That didn't happen.

I’m not a complete hater -- overall I liked it. The story is intriguing and definitely plot-driven and fast-moving. It has just enough sex and horror to draw people in without completely repelling them (though after reading, I did re-think some of my running routes in the interest of not getting disappeared). Basically, I can see why the whole series was such a hit.

On the negative-Nancy side, I could put it down and the writing style was super heavy-handed. The Swedish title is “Men Who Hate Women” and that phrase is used sooo many times in the book, as if readers couldn’t tell that was what the story was about. Plus, at least according to this author, pretty much all men are violent misogynists, which seems a bit much to me.

I’ve seen the American movie trailer, so I definitely pictured the two main characters, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, as Rooney Mara and Daniel Craig.

The plot is based around the long-ago disappearance of Harriet, a case that investigative journalist Blomkvist is hired to solve. He works with Salander, a young computer hacker with some serious issues of all varieties. I did not expect the book to be so much about financial journalism...agreed NYT, agreed:  Without any warning, “Girl” metamorphoses into a boring account of Blomkvist’s effort to take down the executive who originally won the libel lawsuit mentioned at the start of the novel. The story of his revenge is boring and implausible, relying heavily on lazy e-mail exchanges between characters. And so “Girl” ends blandly.

I imagine that if you’re breathing, you’ve already read this book. If not, read it so you know what all the hype is about and let me know if you feel the urge to read the next two.