Book Group, Books

Book 82: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

I decided with this novel that I would include re-reads in my reviews unless I have reviewed them in the past year. The only exception will be books I read somewhat frequently like At Swim, Two Boys or Harry Potter.

I re-read Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for the book group, Books into Movies, Caroline and I joined at the Somerville Public Library. I’m glad I re-read it, but wish I had time to re-watch the Swedish version of the film and to re-read the other two novels (which I may still re-read).

As I was re-reading the novel, the two things that struck me about it were the timeliness of the subject matter and the sheer bad-ass-ness of Lisbeth Salander. I mentioned in my review of The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest that Salandar is an awesome feminist character and I stand by that. Although we are only introduced to her character and get a hint at her hostility towards those who mistreat women and children, the reader gets a good sense that in fighting the systemized failure she faced (and continues to face) that she has internalized a very particular and clear brand of right and wrong.

In contrast to Lisbeth we have Mikeal Blomkvist’s character. At one point Larsson makes a succinct point in the novel that if Blomkvist wrote about his sexual exploits in comparison to a book he read about a 13-year old female writing about hers would he be considered a feminist. I thought this was a humorous and interesting juxtaposition, particularly because in the films Blomkvist’s sexual exploits are almost completely erased from the story.

The timeliness of the subject matter, the corruption of the Swedish financial industry, could not be more pertinent. Originally published in 2005, but hitting it big with an English translation in 2010 this book is incredibly ominous with what occurred with the Madoff schemes and the housing market crash. It definitely raised the question in my mind at least about the financial journalism industry in the US and what they did to delay the current crash.

I actually preferred the investigative journalism portion and the research aspects over the drama and physical violence and the film sort of glossed over these as it would’ve been an incredibly boring film. Overall the book was just believable enough that the series of events could happen, but unrealistic enough that it seems like a TV crime show.

Recommendation: Read it. It’s probably not worth all the hype, but it’s a fast paced story and the book is much more detailed and intricate than the film. However, if there are some incredibly tetchy subjects discussed in the book from gruesome rape scenes, incest, and ritualized murders, so don’t read it expecting a fluffy story.

Opening Line: “It happened every year, was almost a ritual. And this was his eighty-second birthday.”

Closing Line: “She turned on her heel and went home to her newly spotless apartment. As she passed Zinkensdamn, it started to snow. She tossed Elvis into a dumpster.” (Whited out in case you don’t want to read it)

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3 thoughts on “Book 82: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson”

  1. I really enjoyed the first two books even though the writing isn’t all that and there are many valid criticisms… it’s a bit like crack. It’s addictive page turning-ness. I hadn’t really heard about the hype until after I read it. I hate being stung by hype and if I do hear about a book because of hype – I tend to note it down but not read anything else about it if I can.

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    1. I agree – I generally avoid books that have a lot of hype unless someone loans me a copy or a book group is reading them. Both times I’ve read this have been for a book group and I enjoyed the discussions, but it’s funny what minute detail everyone focuses on. For me they were page-turning fun reads.

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