Jun 23, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Stieg Larsson

  • Paperback: 533 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus, July 24th, 2008 (first published 2005)

  • Language: English
  • isbn: 1847245455
  • isbn13: 9781847245458
  • My rating: 5/5 
  • Source: borrowed from a personal library


Summary (Goodreads) :  
Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder - and that the killer is a member of his own tightly knit but dysfunctional family. He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed,  truculent computer   hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.

Finally, I'm reviewing my favorite read of 2010 so far. I've been craving it ever since I saw this tittle, this cover, and of course, after I've read all those I-can't-tell-you-enough-how-good-it-is reviews.

To be completely honest, I doubt I would pick up the book if it were only for the blurb. I'm not really that much into corporate crime or intricacies within a powerful family clan. But every once in a while there is a sort of an "event book", one that you'd almost feel ashamed not to have read, especially in the blogging word. And I just had to find out what the buzz was all about. I honestly had no idea what to expect from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, so I can truly say that I was positively blown away by it.

As said before, I wasn't very happy with the business part of the novel. Being completely ignorant of economy terms, I found myself yawning over pages with endless descriptions of book-cooking, false reports and so on. Luckily, you don't a MA in management to keep up with the story. The background given serves only as a platform to build up the profile of the Vanger family. Speaking of which-had it not been for a family tree given at the beginning, I would have gottent lost in all the side characters. There are too many of them just being touched on, not contributing to the story, just detracting from my attention.

What makes this novel stand out is the kick-ass main character. Trust me, Lisbeth Salander aka The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an MC that you won't forger so soon. The little punk, brilliant hacker, social outcast will grab your attention from the very first moment she enters the stage. Her brisk mind (and mouth and appearance, for that matter) make her a person you want to avoid at all cost, but at the same time you're drawn to her like a moth to fire. Of course, there's always the other side of the medal; more than once, Larsson, in his very brief and concise, almost journalistic style, shows the soft side of Lisbeth; at those moments, your heart is bound to break. Her cheekiness and attitude that shouts stay away from me get her a bad reputation--until she proves what she's capable of. And here I'm not only talking about her hacking skills. She is truly a girl you don't want to make cross, so imagine what happens to a guy who rapes her. Lisbeth takes a stand (and action) for all violated women. Kudos to Mr. Larsson for his engagement; there is a whole lot of references and stats about violence over women in Sweden, the point of which I couldn't fully grasp until very close to the end of the novel.

The outcome is mostly predictable. If I say anything, I'd spoil it all, but if you get to read it, and somewhere  at the middle get a certain hunch about Harriet Vanger, just trust it. You will be right. Still, Larsson will provide you with the "I knew it !" kind of pride for cracking a mystery yourself.

I admire Mr. Larsson's narrative; it kicks off head-first and remains at a quick pace until the last page. There's no getting off the ride once you start it. Not to spoil anything, I was terribly angry at the end. Gonna see how it turns out in the second book, The Girl Who Played with Fire (don't you just adore these tittles?) I can only wonder what Mr. Larsson would have produced had it not been for his early departure. Also, the translating is superb. Made me envious. Sigh.

I had absolutely no doubts about the rating. Despite the few specks in the plot that simply didn't resonate with me, I still consider The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo an absolute must-read.

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