I know I don't normally post reviews on this blog of books I didn't care for, but many people have asked my opinion about the immensely popular Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, so I thought I would do my best to explain my feelings about it. Let me also encourage anyone who loved this book to openly disagree with me. I would love to read comments about why others were enamored with the book and engage in some dialog about this one.
It took me a while to get around to reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and I really, really wanted to like this book. Multiple friends and positive reviews set me up with high expectations for it, but unfortunately it never lived up to those hopes for me - and even setting my preconceived notions aside, in many ways the book fell flat for me.So there you have it. Not my cup of tea, and hopefully I did an adequate job explaining why. Did I miss something? Was this really an excellent book that I'm just gaining an extremely wrong impression of? Is the second book really immensely better? Please don't hesitate to share your thoughts!
The story was decent following journalist Mikael Blomkvist whose career spirals downward after he is found guilty of libel. Promised a job and a hefty paycheck, Blomkvist follows the reclusive Henrik Vanger out to his island and accepts the task of searching out the truth behind the disappearance of Henrik's neice forty years earlier. Under the cover story of writing a biography of Henrik and his family, Blomkvist is introduced to the various eccentric characters that comprise the Vanger family. Accompanying him on his sleuthing expedition is a young hacker and talented research assistant named Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth is the titular Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and in many ways she steals the show from Blomkvist as the much more intriguing character of the two of them.
I'll admit that the mystery portion of the book was really well done - I liked the puzzles and codes and suspicious characters - but Stieg Larsson takes an exorbitantly long time to get there. The first third (or maybe even half) of the book is devoted to Blomkvist's back story of his libel suit and a very disturbing walk through Salander's past. Knowing that the two characters would eventually intersect was probably the only thing that kept me reading the first portion of the book which alternated between boring details of financial lawsuits and cringe-inducing scenes of sexual assault.
Salander's character is perhaps one of the aspects of this book that seems to garner the most praise, but ultimately she never won me over. Though I found myself feeling sympathy and sadness toward her, some of her actions and unrelenting distrust for authority just frustrated me. Also, I found her relationship with Blomkvist overly contrived and their attachment seemed borne more out of plot convenience than of any real connection in their characters.
Many people have told me that Larsson's Millenium Trilogy only improves as the books go on, but many of these same people raved to me how good Dragon Tattoo was. Filled with a bit too much depravity and with a lack of likeable characters for my taste, I'm not certain that I want to continue the series and overall I'm left a bit baffled at the overwhelming popularity of this book.