Literature And Other Musings

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Book Review


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.

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23 thoughts on “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Book Review

    • Which version did you watch? The swedish one or the american? Lots of people have been saying the Swedish version is a lot grittier than the American rendition. I’m going to watch the movie now! 😉 Probably the US version. Subtitles require effort.

      • I watched the Swedish version. 🙂 And I have yet to see the American version. I can tell you that I really enjoyed the Swedish one. The thing is am a big fan of foreign movies. And I am not that much of a fan when it comes to remakes, though I dont mind seeing for the sake of contrast. I really recommend you watch the Swedish version, perhaps first. The actress who played the lead character was very amazing. And subtitles are fun! 😉

      • Ah, I think you convinced me on that one. Congrats! 😉 To be honest, I do enjoy foreign films a lot. Iranian and Chinese cinema produce a lot of good stuff! Oh what the heck, I have vacations. Better watch both the versions!

      • haha glad to hear! 😉 You will enjoy it, I’ve no doubt.

        We are in the same league as far as Chinese and Iranian films are concerned. 🙂 Add Brazilian, Argentinean, Senegal, French and German too. And Sweden has always been my favorite, thanks to Ingmar Bergman. 😉 Ethiopia will soon join. There are some good independent Indian filmmakers that I like as well. I’ve long given up on Bollywood blockbusters though I don’t mind watching every now and then. 😀

      • WHOA! You’re like a major movie buff! And a good one at that, considering you have such diverse taste. Bet I have to ask you before I jump on to watch a flick. 😉

        Are you an Indian? I’ve given on Bollywood too – though sometimes for a little inane entertainment, I get dragged in by friends to watch a kitsch Bollywood love story.

      • lol no am not an Indian, am Ethiopian. 🙂

        Me loves movies. Particularly independent ones, those with less special effects and with more storytelling. 😀

        But I dont mind kitsch too. Sometimes you’ve to enjoy the silly to appreciate the good ones. 😉

      • I’m going to steal that last line of your comment! Absolutely true there, my wise friend and a totally true-to-the-wordmovie buff! 😉

        Independent movies are usually really good because they’re free from having to use the same money making formula that we see in commercial and mainstream cinema. Plus, many independent screenwriters and actors are really good!

  1. S. L. says:

    So glad you reviewed this book. I still need to read it, just haven’t been in the mood to reading something as dark/violent as I’ve heard this book is. I also haven’t seen either of the movies yet.

    • I get you. There were times when I put the book down and opted for a lighter read but it becomes fast paced and deliciously thrilling after a while! Do give it a try and tell me!

  2. i haven’t read any but my sister has read all of them…she loves them then she saw the movies both the usa ones and the Swedish ones!

    i will try the books first too. thanks and great review.

  3. While I found the book slow-paced for about the first-half of the book (of 841 pages, that is a long first-half), I could understand that the author was setting up all the characters so that, like Mikael, you can fgure out who’s who. It was needed, even though it was frustratingly slow. But by the second-half, the mystery, the action, the danger, started heating up, and I was actually surprised at who the “bad guy” was. I had my ideas on someone else, until information that Mikael and especially Lisbeth unearthed. I rooted for them both, was just as creeped out, just as fearful, just as disgusted as they were. Lisbeth ends up having to really examine her emotions, something she never did, and just when she “man’s-up” and decides to lay it all out on the table for Mikael, at the very end of the last chapter, my heart broke for Lisbeth. I won’t say what and spoil it for those who haven’t read it yet. I’ll simply state: Go get this book! It’s a must-read!

    • Oh My, that’s like a mini-review right there! I absolutely hated the ending, it just exposed the vulnerable side of Lisbeth and then we have to see her going back to her dark hole again.
      Thank You So Much for the comment!

  4. Because I’m not much of a reader (especially when it comes to English books), I took up the movie instead and yeah it was really full of mystery and twist. Though I’m not sure if I should compare the book with the movie. Both provides different experiences.

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