Saturday, January 19, 2013

Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

I was sitting in my hostel in Brussels  a couple of months ago, and left on the little night table by my bed as a copy of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' - in the dreaded movie edition cover.  It turned out to be an English copy in a French/Flemish city, so I figured it was a good idea to pick it up and give it a shot despite it being quite different then my usual diet of classics (it ended up with a friend in Croatia, then to Canada).  But, I was on vacation!  So I traveled around quite a bit on the train and read it when I had finished all my expenses and the landscape on the train wasn't very exciting. 

If you're looking for literature, this book isn't what you're after.  It was a decent 'thriller' novel, but nothing really special.  The best part of the book for me was the backdrop of the book - the country of Sweden - which I had passed through a bit earlier on my trip.  As I was reading this work I could not help but see Daniel Craig running around, piecing together clues of the crime and sleeping with quite a few of the characters.  The fact that I had watched the movie and remembered a bit of the plot made it so that I couldn't really give this novel a fair shake.

Art courtesy of

The constant mention of female abuse in the work was a direct result of Larsson's experience watching three of his friends gang-rape a woman (see Wikipedia).  This theme overlaid much of the novel - much more so than I felt in the movie at the time.  There were themes of revenge, redemption, the triumph of good over evil, greed, sexual exploitation and sexual experiences in general (quite a few).

If you like modern day thrillers and aren't squeamish, you'll probably enjoy this work.  Otherwise, I would suggest steering clear of it altogether.  A decent book for what it is, but now that I've tested the hype, I will not read the remaining books.

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