Monday, October 11, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Facial Piercings

Warning: This book review contains spoilers. If you have not read the book, please proceed with caution. Or come back and read it after you have read the book.

I am running a book club on Facebook and this was the choice for the month of October. Every time I saw it at good ol' Barnes and Noble I picked it up and looked at it but, for some reason or another, always put it back. I don't know why I do that because I always end up getting it eventually anyway. For the most part I was excited to finally read it.

The beginning is rough and hard to plow through. At least it was for me. All this background information that is told in a pretty mundane manner fills the first few chapters. I am not going to lie, I was about ready to give up on it.

Lisbeth Salander is the saving grace of the book. Well, I perked up whenever she came on the scene at the beginning of the book simply because she was not acting like a whipped dog like Mikael Blomkvist was. But she really is an interesting character. Some of the stuff that Larsson explains about her past is a little unbelievable (how can someone be so beaten down?) but I quickly gained sympathy for her where I had a hard time feeling bad for Blomkvist because he was a little whiny at the beginning.

Once the story gets going it really gets going. I loved the intensity as Blomkvist and Salander uncover clues. They make a perfect team too. She is an asocial genius hacker and he is intuitive and a good journalist. One thing I do like about Blomkvist is that he's the muscle that doesn't act like the muscle. There is more to him than his sex appeal as he proves with every turn of the investigation.

While I am on the topic of Blomkvist...His relationship with Erika Berger is, while interesting, somewhat unsettling. I have a hard time liking a character that has such an open and relaxed sexual relationship with a woman. And then he sleeps with Cecilia. Random. And, even more random, he sleeps with Salander. He is more man-whore than anything.

This was my initial response but, after thinking about it, I realized that all of these characters interweave nicely.

This book is mostly about violence and abuse toward women in all of its forms. The most significant one is rape obviously. Lisbeth Salander, Harriet Vanger, and several other women in the story (most just mentioned as past cases) suffer from abuse by the hand of a man.

One of the interesting aspects about all of this is their reactions. Harriet chooses to flee the situation. Lisbeth Salander chooses to return the violence tenfold. She fights back and chooses not to be a victim anymore. Not only with her attack on her attacker but also with her ability to hack into other peoples' lives. What I liked was that the hacking was compared to rape as well. Essentially, Salander rapes the men. This, to me, is the best form of revenge she can take. She despises Harriet for running away and, by doing so, letting other women become victims of her family's sick ways.

Lisbeth Salander, like I said, is the saving grace of the novel. I tend to feel that, once Larsson got out Blomkvist and Salander's background information at the beginning he was able to let the characters really come to life. Salander's dialogue, especially at the end, is entertaining. At one point I thought of them as Bones and Booth on Bones because of the nice exchanges in dialogue.

While this book is entertaining because the plot has endless twists and turns, the writing leaves something to be desired. There is a lot of telling and no showing. I like to think a lot of this has to do with the translation from Swedish to English, so I am not going to be too harsh about that. Once you get used to the straight-forward and tell-it-like-it-is style that Larsson engages, then you move along with the story pretty nicely.

I gave this 3.5 out of 5 facial piercings simply because of the rough start. It would have gotten a 4 or 4.5 if it had a better start and the writing wasn't so rigid.

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