With sleepy vacations, I was totes happy when I went to the book store and finally bought this best seller novel. This is the first book in the trilogy (I’m ready to devour the other two as well)
The first 200 pages needed a bit of trimming, since there were times when I had to set the book down because of the dense plot and the introduction of the numerous characters. Steig Larson was a stickler for details, and it holds true for this book. Each character and place has been decorated with intricacy – even the protagonist’s mentally unstable mother (who appears in the book for about 5 minutes) is given irrelevant attention.
When I finally went past all the introductions, the book became much more interesting and fluid. The family tree drawing on the first page was a helpful aid to keep track of all the characters appearing in the novel. I merely had to peek back to check who belonged to which son, what relations did they have with whom. It sounds tedious but it becomes easier once you’re wholly into the book.
The book starts off with Mikael Blomkvist, a leading journalist and editor of the financial magazine Millennium , is found guilty of libel in the Swedish court. At the same time, we are being given our first glimpse of Lisabeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo and other tats as well, a socio-path labelled by the court and in the care of a guardian due to the dysfunctional state of her family. However, Lisabeth is a highly intelligent individual, working as a freelance investigator in a security firm.
His reputation destroyed by the libel label thrown on him, Mikael is contacted by Eric Vanger of the once powerful Vanger empire. Vanger persuades him to take up the case of Harriet Vanger – a 16 year old who went missing thirty years ago. The only Vanger, in Eric Vanger’s opinion, worthy to take control of the sprawling empire.
Mikael accepts the job although he believes that Eric Vanger is deluding himself to think that he could find out what happened to Harriet after all these years. It is not until he meets Salander (who has been investigating his libel case secretly) that the book begins to unearth explosive cover-ups and graphic violence. The answer to whatever happened to Harriet lies in a horrific past, with disturbing and intriguing consequences.
The most complex character of all was Salander (No surprise there) She has been portrayed as a misunderstood outcast who tries very hard to hide her real emotions and is ashamed of her photographic memory which, according to her, makes her a ‘freak’. All that badass attitude, the apathetic looks, her mistrust and suspicion on everyone except of course, the flamboyant Mikael, makes her surprisingly a likable character. We see so many layers of her personality that it’s hard not to get under her skin and look from her point-of-view. Although I did thought that she becomes cozy with Mikael a little early, it kind of makes it a little unbelievable that a girl who is so anti-social would really be all, “Hey, you don’t ask me questions about my life or about my unwillingness to smile. I like you. Let’s sleep together.”
And then she even falls in love with him. I know there are many people who absolutely hated this plot turn but I thought it was a bit endearing. The last paragraph was written so callously, with the thawed out Salander going back to her mold of ice, that I wanted to scream at Mikael.
The book could have benefited from solid editing. It could have made the story fast paced and thus enjoyable to read. Most of us were floundering in the ocean of characters that keep popping up, this eventually hurt the brilliant story, but give it a try. Listen to a little Swedish rock to make the first 200 pages a little easy – after that it’s an easy ride.