November 03, 2009

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson

It took me a while to pick up The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo - I was really intrigued by all the wonderful reviews I was reading but the genre of crime/mystery is not usually one that I enter into - too close to my work and just not something that tends to relax me. Part of the buzz of reading for me is being taken to another world - and this type of world just isn't really the kind of world I want to visit!

However, I bit the bullet with this one when I was in Borders with my partner a couple of weeks ago and he had two books in the "Buy 3 Get one Free" deal but just couldn't find a third - Dragon Girl called out to me so I brought her home with me.

Am I glad that I did? Well, yes and no...

Yes because this was a really great book in so many ways. Not being a big crime/mystery reader I'm probably not really able to compare this book with others in its field but I thought this was one of the best character novels in this genre that I have read. The main characters seemed solid and well developed and not without their flaws - definitely multidimensional. The character of Lisbeth Salander was a particular favourite - so vulnerable but such a tough ass at the same time - I loved her!

I thought the mystery element of the novel was well built - the premise of disgraced finance journalist, Mikael Blomkvist being called upon by ageing Industrialist Henrik Vanger to solve a decades old family mystery was combined well with Blomkvist's own personal and professional dramas with a high rolling Swedish businessman. The interactions between the different story lines and characters was written quite well - I sometimes felt the narrative was a little stilted or strange but I am wondering if this was a result of the translation process??

This book captured my reading time from the moment I picked it up but unfortunately it also captured my non-reading time - particularly my sleep! I soon discovered that for me this was not a book I could read before going to sleep - the violence depicted in the novel - particularly personal violence against women - was brutal and graphic. I have worked with women who have had violence perpetrated against them and this book reminded me of many of their stories. To be honest, if I had known this was the context of the book I probably would not have read it - so in many ways I am glad I was in the dark about this content as this is a book I am glad to have read. I will also be looking forward to reading the other two books in the series - after I have a little bit of a break from the violence and mystery.


Anonymous said...

Oh now thats not what you hear in the broadsheets is it. Really interesting thoughts there so thank you very much as I have been mulling reading this book over for ages but not done so yet, this is adding to the reasons that I should.

Nadia said...

I liked your honest review. I've been debating buying this book for a while now and I think I will get it, but I'll read it during the day. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

Great review Karen. I am definitely planning to pick this one up, and your caution about the violence is noted. For the record, I've heard the second book is better than the first (don't know about the violence, though...).

Karen said...

Hi savidgereads - I would definitely add it you your list.

Hi Nadia - Definitely a book for during the day reading I would say!

Hi eveningreader - I've heard lots of people say that the second book is even better too - which just makes me want to read it right now even more!! I will still give myself a break from the heaviness though I think.

kay - Infinite Shelf said...

Great review. I agree with it! And I don't know if the stilt effect is a result of the translation : I read it in French, and I felt a little like this too.

Karen said...

Hi Kay - it's hard to say isn't it?? I was able to overlook that though so definitely a sign of a good book for me.

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