Originally published on June 11, 2012.
I just finished my 23rd book of 2012, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson. After reviewing my reading list for the rest of this year, I
have realized that this is the first book I've read this year that falls
squarely into the category of "adult fiction," as opposed to "young adult" or a
mix of the two. And after reading it, I think I'm going to beat a hasty retreat
back to the world of YA lit. This book was simply too dark, grisly, and
disturbing for me to able to say that I "enjoyed" it.
Don't get me wrong;
it is incredibly well-written. Its complexity and depth were impressive. The
mystery included layer after layer to expose, and it was very skillfully done.
Stieg Larsson was quite obviously a genius and an excellent writer. Based on
his writing alone, I can see why this book was an international best-seller.
But I, personally, will not be reading his other two books. That's really
saying something for me; I usually finish a trilogy no matter how much I like
(or dislike) the first book in it. And I really was impressed by this book.
But I'm going to skip the other two, just because I don't think I can handle
that much darkness and horror.
The plot is difficult to describe because
it is so complex and has so many layers. The most basic explanation I can give
is this: journalist Mikael Blomkvist has just been disgraced in his profession
by accusations of libel against a well-known financial giant. This situation
provides a complicated subplot throughout the book, but doesn't bear too much
connection to the main story, aside from the fact that it sets Blomkvist up to
take some time away from his journalistic career. The aged and wealthy Henrik
Vanger approaches Blomkvist with a highly unusual assignment--to work for him
for a year, ostensibly writing the family memoirs, but actually investigating
the 40-year-old unsolved mystery of the disappearance of his niece, Harriet
Vanger. When, against all odds, Blomkvist makes some new discoveries in the
case, he eventually teams up with Lisbeth Salander as his "research assistant."
Lisbeth is 25, treated as a ward of the state because of her supposed mental
imbalances, has a vicious capacity for revenge, and is the most talented
computer hacker in Sweden. This unlikely pair discovers that the mystery of
Harriet did not end 40 years ago; rather, there is a criminal still active in
the present day.
I actually really enjoyed the story of Blomkvist and
Salander's investigation of the crime and how they pieced together all of these
seemingly insignificant details from 40 years before to reach their
conclusions. What I did NOT enjoy were the rape and brutality that were woven
through virtually every aspect of the story. Several men throughout the story
were described as twisted, violent monsters, and I think pretty much every
reader would be horrified by their crimes. So while I really liked the writing
and most of the storyline, I just couldn't stomach the crimes. I'm hesitant to
recommend this one, as I know it is going to give me nightmares. It's
definitely not my usual style of book, and while I'm glad that I read it to see
what all the "best seller" fuss is about, I won't be doing a reread or checkout
out any of Larsson's other books.