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Friday, June 17, 2011

Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium #1) by Stieg Larsson

Publisher: Penguin
Published: 2005
Pages: 841
Source: Borrowed (Thanks Auntie!)
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch--and there's always a catch--is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson's novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don't want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

In short: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson presents a damn good mystery and a fascinating enigma in the character of Lisbeth Salander, but could do with a fair amount of editing.
The original title of this book in Sweden is Men Who Hate Women, which, I think, sums up pretty well its truly horrific plot. After months of reading only YA, it was a nasty shock to read about the events that take place in this very adult book. Still, I very much enjoyed the well laid out mystery. With all the pieces of the puzzle in place, the revelation at the end was really well done.

The biggest problem I had with this book was its length. At 841 pages (albeit the mass market paperback version), there was a ton of extraneous and pointless information that could have been left out. I really don't need to read about all the intricacies of hacking and economics. With editing, easily hundreds of pages that were non-essential to the plot, mystery, and characters could have been removed. The two main characters, Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, did not even meet until half way through.

Out of all the characters, Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo, was really the only one who stood out for me. Maybe it was just because she was so peculiar that all the other characters paled in comparison. Salander is probably the most fascinating character I've read in years. An utter enigma. She is incredibly intelligent and introverted and violent. Why does she behave the way she does? What is her revulsion to turning to the police for help?

Though I suspect the other books in the Millenium Trilogy will also be just as long-winded, I would like to learn more about Salander and so I will continue on with the series. I also look forward to watching the movies, both Swedish and American alike. The American version trailer was just released and it looks very edgy and cool:

*Read as part of the Into the Old World Reading Challenge
*Read as part of the Book Series Completion Challenge,
*The Letter G in the A-Z Reading Challenge


  1. I feel like I'm the only one on this planet that has not read this book! lol I think it's because I have a problem with the length, too. However, I usually do like longer books because they tend to delve more into the characters and story. Crazy Swedish title!

  2. I have heard a lot of good things about this one. I just have so much on my TBR list!! I will get to it eventually. Great review. :0)

  3. Having seen this series everywhere I'm tempted to read it but it's not a genre I can see my self enjoying and yikes is it long. I'd go watch the movie though!

  4. Great review! Is it really that long? Yikes! I hardly ever hear negative things about this book though, so perhaps I should just jump on the bandwagon. :)

  5. *nods*
    I love your review, though I couldn't actually get far with this book, I agree on the editing.
    I like details, but I don't need to know them all :P

  6. i tried reading this....i really wanted to...i think i read like 50 pages then stopped. maybe one day i'll finish it. nice review!

  7. This book has been passed around my family, but I've never found the time to read it myself. I've heard that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo has a slow start, but now that you mention many pages are almost pointless...I think I'll pass. Great honest review!

    I think the nice thing about YA is that it really works to hold our attention. Adult fic...not as much.

  8. This is the kind of book that I like. There's a really great story, a lot of crimes and it's really long :) I loved it!

  9. *bows down to you*

    WOW Aylee. You got through 841 pages when only half are necessary to the plot! I would have given up. For sure.

    I didn't know that Men Who Hate Women was the original title. That just makes me shudder. Salander, with her unique name, sounds very intriguing as a character. I may never read the books, but I will be watching the films (just like HP). LOL

  10. Julie: I usually like longer books too, I just thought this one was unnecessarily long.

    Tracy: Heh, yeah me too. Way too much to read, so little time.

    Laura: I wouldn't recommend it for everyone. Though maybe you're right and the movie could reach a wider audience.

    Jessica: Keep in mind that my version was the mass market paperback version. I assume the hardback is probably half the length. Yeah, I felt I needed to jump on the bandwagon too to see what the fuss was about.

    Alex: Definitely. There were tons of details that I thought initially might have something to do with clues for the mystery but turns out, they were just pointless.

    Ashton: The beginning was very hard to get into, especially. All that economics talk and I just about gave up too.

    Lauren: I don't regret reading it... but there was definitely the feeling that there were so many YA books I could've been reading in that lengthy time that, like you said, would capture my interest tons more.

    Evie: I love books that have a great story, crime and mystery, and are long (if done well) too! This one was long, not done well.

    Missie: I don't believe I've ever given up on a book before. I just don't have it in me. I always need to follow through just in case in gets better at the end or something. And yeah, the entire plot was shudder inducing. Those Swedes have some interesting names, that's for sure. I've seen the Swedish version of the film and I liked it equally as much as the book, which is pretty rare because almost always I like the book better (like HP :P).

  11. Long books scare me which is why I avoid reading them unless I have a lot of free time or have heard good things about them. Lol, I don't think I'd read a book called Men Who Hate Women though even if it got amazing reviews.

  12. I hadn't seen this trailer yet! I hope folks who haven't read the books know what they're in for. I was shocked at the violence and sadism when reading this one. But it makes Salander all the more endearing to me. I love her and just wanted her to find some happiness.

    I do agree that it had way more details than necessary.

  13. Zahida: I definitely avoid long books now more than I ever did before I had a book blog and needed to get reviews out fairly regularly. And yeah, I don't think I would read a book called that either which is why I imagine they changed the name.

    Logan: Agreed. Normally, I wouldn't like a character like Salander but there's just something about her that I can't help but like. Perhaps it's because I sympathize with all the crap she's gone through and how she's treated like an invalid when really she's crazy smart.

  14. Wow, that's a lot of pages to spend on irrelevant stuff! I don't think I would have made it through the whole book, but I guess it's a moot point because I really have no interest in reading it anyway (much to the disappointment of all my library patrons). I'm interested in hearing what you think of the rest of the series, especially given some of your questions and some things my patrons have told me about the later books.

  15. Heh, it's certainly not a book for everyone. I felt I needed a change from all the YA I was reading... and now I want back in! I had a feeling I wasn't going to be able to calm my YA addiction for long.