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Monday, June 11, 2012

Book #23 of 2012: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

I just finished my 23rd book of 2012, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  After reviewing my reading list for the rest of this year, I have realized that this is the first book I've read this year that falls squarely into the category of "adult fiction," as opposed to "young adult" or a mix of the two.  And after reading it, I think I'm going to beat a hasty retreat back to the world of YA lit.  This book was simply too dark, grisly, and disturbing for me to able to say that I "enjoyed" it.

Don't get me wrong; it is incredibly well-written.  Its complexity and depth were impressive.  The mystery included layer after layer to expose, and it was very skillfully done.  Stieg Larsson was quite obviously a genius and an excellent writer.  Based on his writing alone, I can see why this book was an international best-seller.  But I, personally, will not be reading his other two books.  That's really saying something for me; I usually finish a trilogy no matter how much I like (or dislike) the first book in it.  And I really was impressed by this book.  But I'm going to skip the other two, just because I don't think I can handle that much darkness and horror.

The plot is difficult to describe because it is so complex and has so many layers.  The most basic explanation I can give is this: journalist Mikael Blomkvist has just been disgraced in his profession by accusations of libel against a well-known financial giant.  This situation provides a complicated subplot throughout the book, but doesn't bear too much connection to the main story, aside from the fact that it sets Blomkvist up to take some time away from his journalistic career.  The aged and wealthy Henrik Vanger approaches Blomkvist with a highly unusual assignment--to work for him for a year, ostensibly writing the family memoirs, but actually investigating the 40-year-old unsolved mystery of the disappearance of his niece, Harriet Vanger.  When, against all odds, Blomkvist makes some new discoveries in the case, he eventually teams up with Lisbeth Salander as his "research assistant."  Lisbeth is 25, treated as a ward of the state because of her supposed mental imbalances, has a vicious capacity for revenge, and is the most talented computer hacker in Sweden.  This unlikely pair discovers that the mystery of Harriet did not end 40 years ago; rather, there is a criminal still active in the present day.

I actually really enjoyed the story of Blomkvist and Salander's investigation of the crime and how they pieced together all of these seemingly insignificant details from 40 years before to reach their conclusions.  What I did NOT enjoy were the rape and brutality that were woven through virtually every aspect of the story.  Several men throughout the story were described as twisted, violent monsters, and I think pretty much every reader would be horrified by their crimes.  So while I really liked the writing and most of the storyline, I just couldn't stomach the crimes.  I'm hesitant to recommend this one, as I know it is going to give me nightmares.  It's definitely not my usual style of book, and while I'm glad that I read it to see what all the "best seller" fuss is about, I won't be doing a reread or checkout out any of Larsson's other books.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

I hear you about book 1 being so graphic. I am NOT going to see the movie, just because it was hard enough to read those scenes. But my mom had read the series and said that book 1 was the worst in terms of being graphic. I read the rest of the series and agree with her. I enjoyed them. But I'm also the same girl that was very happy with her decision to stop reading The Hunger Games halfway through the first book because I could not handle the subject matter. :)