The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
By: Stieg Larsson
2008 Knopf Publishing (first published in 2005)
"The international publishing sensation"
Now with an introduction like that, a girl's gonna have some high expectations, no?
I first saw this book at my local bookstore. It was in the front and obviously heavily marketed. Interested, I did more research on the book and found that it was recommended by many people and that it was, as the inside flap indicates, an international phenomenon.
And I have to say is that I can see why.
The book is by a Swedish author, who died in 2004 just after submitting the manuscript of this book and its sequels (the book is apparently part of a trilogy). It was translated into English and the original title of the book was Men Who Hate Women. After reading the novel, I can see why Larsson chose that title; it describes the book pretty well.
The story is about a missing girl from a wealthy and well-to-do family in Sweden. Forty years later her disappearance is still a mystery, the case unsolved. Enter Mikael Blomkvist, a down but not out journalist hired to solve the mystery. Together with the help of part goth / part punk, young, genius hacker Lisbeth Salander, the duo tries to solve the mystery. That's the story in a nutshell, but there are many elements to the story.
For one, the book reads like a hybrid between The Di Vinci Code and the movie Seven in that the crimes are in relation to Biblical verses/stories. That adds an interesting twist to the story, while simultaneously grounding it in a reality many can relate to and understand.
Also,the original title alludes to the victim of these crimes: women. Its interesting because I never thought of Sweden as being this place with high levels of crimes against women, but Larsson cites disturbing stats on the percentage of crimes done against women, committed by men.
One thing I would warn though, because the crimes are against women (or maybe because I also happen to be a woman), some parts in the book may be disturbing to read, and isn't for everyone. It was disturbing for me, but I've read and heard of such incidents before so it wasn't too much of a surprise, but if you've never encountered something like it, be prepared to be shocked.
The one good thing about this book is that it is suspenseful, it is a page turner. Larsson's intricate details illuminate his complex thought process and attention to every little iota.
One "negative" thing might be that there is a great deal of financial talk in the book, but it's not so much that someone not into financial jargon couldn't understand it. However, some still might get bored or tempted to skip. Don't! The details are important to the story, reread passages if you need to, but read it nonetheless.
Overall it was a good book. I wouldn't say great, because some scenes were so disturbing, but overall a well thought-out story. The whole time I was reading it I kept thinking, "this would make an awesome movie" so i'm keeping my fingers crossed! I'm looking forward to reading the sequel :)