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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: 10/23/10

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Back in May when I was working for the Census I heard a book review of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Lasson on NPR. It was an especially hot day and I decided to take a little extra time to fill out my paperwork and rehydrate so I could hear the entire review. The Millenium series wasn't one I had planned to read but Maureen Corrigan made it sound interesting and like something I might like.

So I put The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on hold at the library. There were something like a hundred people in line ahead of me. I put the book out of my mind having plenty of others things to read and of course the daily Census work to keep me occupied. Near the very end of my run as a 2010 enumerator, the book came in. And I ended up reading it while waiting for a mandatory Census meeting to start, two hours late! Let's just say it didn't put me in a good mood to read the book.

Going into the book I certainly was well aware of what has been posted already about the book. There are those who love the book and rave about how they couldn't put it down. There are others who hate the book for the violence against women. I certainly didn't love the book and I certainly didn't hate the book either. If anything, I found it a mediocre psychological drama mystery in need of editing.

Lisbeth Salander is the girl with the dragon tattoo and she's one of two people investigating the forty year old disappearance of Harriet Vanger. She went missing during a family gathering on a remote island at a time when the bridge was blocked by a truck accident. Henrik Vanger, her uncle wants Mikael Blomkvist to research her disappearance with hopes of discovering what happened to her and who has been trying to drive him mad by sending yearly reminders of her disappearance.

As many blog reviews have said, the first 50 pages are deadly slow. Even the ones who love the book admit that it has a slow start. By the time I was stuck in a McDonalds waiting for the meeting to start I was past those fifty pages. I was hopeful that things would pick up and capture my attention. For me, they didn't. In fact by about page 120 or so I figured out what had happened to Harriet. After that, I kept reading only because I had nothing else to do.

The big draw for most readers seems to be how different Blomkvist and Salander are. Blomkvist is dull, boring, and doesn't know how to tell any of the other characters to shut up. Which leaves me slogging through paragraphs and paragraphs of dialogue in place of plot or character development.

Then there's Salander, the "kick ass" titular character in the English translation. The original title is Men Who Hate Women which is a better title. Salander comes off as a throw away character. Sure, she has a painful past and tons of secrets and an attitude but in the grand scheme of the libel suit, the disappearance of a young girl, a seriously dysfunctional family and a plot that seems like the miniseries version of a typical night of Criminal Minds, she's like that show's Penelope Garcia.

So no, I won't be bothering with the other two books in the series. I might watch the Swedish film on Netflix but I won't be forking out money to see the American remake that's currently being filmed.

Comments (8)

Comment #1: Sunday, October, 24, 2010 at 04:28:00


I love the movie a lot!! I want to read the book too, but I have to wait for my friend to finish it so that I can borrow it.

Just like you, I will not watch the American version because the Swedish movie is already great. and I have seen American ruins a lot of great movie when they try to remake them. Hollywood should stay making their own movies rather than remaking.

Comment #2: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 20:57:42


I don't mind Hollywood adapting films but I like having access to the originals too.

Comment #3: Sunday, October, 24, 2010 at 07:25:55


This book has been on my TBR pile for awhile. Just never seem to get to it. When I do (who knows when that will be) I'll let you know what I thought. Thanks for the great review!

Comment #4: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 20:58:27


You're welcome. I hou have better luck with it than I did.

Comment #5: Sunday, October, 24, 2010 at 11:23:27


I skipped these books too. I know people love them but from what I've read about them, I'm not missing anything.

Comment #6: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 21:09:12


The experience satisfied my curiosity.

Comment #7: Sunday, October, 24, 2010 at 12:02:14


I encourage you to read the next two books. You will find that Lisbeth's character develops a lot. As does the entire plot. Think of the first book as act one. The 'mystery' in book one isn't the point at all (other than to serve as another example of men who hate women). I just loved the way the three books together formed such a great story and charcter arc.

Comment #8: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 at 21:09:12


Maybe in the future when I've cleared through my list of books I want to read. Right now though I'm not interested.

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