I must first start off by stating that I don't normally read books that have had such a mass popular following as Stieg Larsson's books have had. A lot of books I read are written by authors who aren't so widely known or on the most popular books lists. I love reading new authors and quite honestly grow weary of hearing names like Patterson, Grafton, Koontz and others that get so much publicity in the mainstream market. I hate to sound cynical or biased, but I just don't fall for all of the hype that these popular books give off. That said, I made an exception with THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. While on vacation earlier this year, I picked up a copy and vowed to read it at some point. A few months went by and for some unknown reason, I picked it up one day and decided it was time to see what all of the fuss was about. Another reason I wanted to read it was so that I could participate in conversations about the book based on my own experience and information. Let's face it, people are talking about this book everywhere!
I'm not going to try to sum up all of what goes on in this amazing book except to say that is a story with two main characters who are equally engaging and interesting. One is Mikael Blomkvist - journalist and part owner of a controversial magazine called Millennium. The other is a twenty-four year old social misfit who is as mysterious as she is smart. The story centers around criminal financial dealings and a forty year old missing persons case. You can find a complete synopsis here from Amazon.
What can I say about this book that hasn't already been said over and over again? I'll just get right to it: I really enjoyed this book! I mean, I LOVED it! I'll be honest, though. When I first began reading, I was concerned that with so many characters (and difficult Swedish names) I would have a hard time keeping them straight, but once I got into the story I realized I wasn't having a problem at all. The characters, especially Blomkvist and Salander are two of the most intriguing and original characters I've ever read about. They were so well developed that by the time they actually met each other in the book, each of their personalities was clear to me. I loved their exchanges and quickly regarded their new friendship as something real and honest.
The stories going on are masterfully interwoven and kept me turning the pages with anticipation. I'm not what I consider to be a fast reader but I read this book in a very short amount of time based on my usual timetable. I just simply didn't want to stop reading and was finished in 6 days and given that it was 600 pages, that really says something. One thing I like about this book is that there is so much happening and so much to learn about the characters. Though the mystery of what happened to Harriet Vanger back in 1966 is at the book's core, there are other sub plots that play huge roles and will no doubt surface later. There are also many unanswered questions about Lisbeth that I am looking forward to being revealed. In a great mystery, answers tend to lead to more questions and Stieg Larsson was a master at crafting a powerful mystery.
However, I'll be honest - if you're the type of reader who likes to quickly get to the action in a story, you may have a difficult time waiting through all of the development that takes place in this book. Even the most seemingly unimportant detail may well turn out to be a critical part in the story. There is a certain amount of patience needed for this type of book, but in my opinion it is well worth the wait.
The bottom line is that I loved reading this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who appreciates complicated, layered plots and intriguing characters. I found it to be wonderfully multi-layered and I thoroughly enjoyed peeling back those layers to get to the end. Many times books don't live up to the hype they get from being so popular which is why I typically shy away from those books. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO is the exception and I believe will not disappoint you if you choose to read it.
I can easily say this is my favorite book so far this year and even though I hated to see it come to an end, I am very much looking forward to the second book, THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE. I have a feeling I'm going to love it every bit as much as this one.
THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (Paperback)
Author: Stieg Larsson
Publisher: Vintage Crime
Published: June 2009
Pages: 600 pages
Grade: A (Highly Recommended)