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I am quite often slow to come to a trend. A few years back, I noticed a lot of people discussing on facebook what they were reading, and the buzz was some books by the author Stieg Larsson. I didn't know much about the series, other than Stieg was Swedish, and recently deceased. I also took note of some of the chats where people had started this novel and found it really hard going to get into at first. This comment I took on board, so I was prepared when I started reading this myself for it to happen for me, but I was willing to work on past this to get to the meatier content of the book. After I read it, I prompted my husband to read it with the same advice, and after seeing the film, I recently went back to re-read the book.
I don't know what made this book initially surge in popularity - whether it was the fact the author died before the work was published, or that Swedish authors seemed to have a bit of a monopoly in the new author market. Whatever the reason, I am glad that this series of three books which is sometimes also referred to as the Millenium trilogy was brought to my attention so that I could read it. It is an engaging novel, and while disturbing at times, very gritty and well written.
The first 100 pages or so of this book is where the book is hard going. This is where we are introduced to what will be the two main characters of the novel. The background story before this pair even meet seems long winded at first, but when you get into the book it is very necessary to understanding the plot progression later.
The book has an unusual and slightly old fashioned structure with a prologue and epilogue to introduce and conclude the story, then the main body of the story being divided up into 4 sections. Each of the main 4 sections is accompanied on the first page by a statistic about women and abuse in Sweden. This is interesting, and I think probably fits in better with the first working title to this novel, 'Men Who Hate Women'. I am glad the title was changed for UK publication as I would not have been attracted to read a novel with that name however good the recommendation.
The Prologue sets a mystery. An old man receives a mysterious parcel containing a preseed flower in a frame every year on his birthday. It is clear some crime has happened a long time in the past as the gentlemen remembers events in a phone call with a retired policemen.
Unusually for a novel, we are then provided with a family tree for the Vanger family who are central to the plot once the story gets moving. I ignored this at first, but I did find this incredibly useful to have to refer back to now and again once fully engrossed in the story, as this is a family with lots of members, and lots of Swedish names which are not familiar to my native speech, so for that reason I found it a useful tool. It is one book where I would definitely recommend getting a paper version rather than reading a kindle version for this feature alone as it would be harder to flick back to it in the middle of reading a particular scene without it being a huge distraction.
The main body of the story dedicates the first 100 pages or so to setting the scene about what will become two of the most central characters of the story. This provides a good amount of background material which is necessary to believe the plot progression later, but when first reading it, its a bit dull and hard work. It does make you want to stop reading but persevere, as believe me the whole product is worth it.
Firstly, we are given some background to corruption in industry. We meet reporter Mikael Blomkvist. Also Editor of the magazine Millenium, Blomkvist is in court facing libel charges after an article about corruption involving a character called Wnnerstrom. The charges go against him, but rather than defend himself, he faces a large fine and prison sentence.
Secondly, we are made aware of the character Lisbeth Salander. She is a 24 year old girl who works freelance for a security firm. Her job is as an investigator, though it is clear right from the start, the reason she is so good in her field is that she is not afraid to use unconventional means to achieve her goals. A strange girl, who may or may not suffer from Aspergers, she is a loner, and perhaps seen by others as a bit of a victim.
Salander is employed by the Vanger company to research Blomkvists background. Using slight manipulation via information in Salander's report, 82 year old Henrik Vanger has one major reason for hiring Blomkvist. He trusts him, and wants him to investigate a 40 year old case of the disappearance of his niece from his home. He wants to finally solve this mystery and be at peace. However, Mikael must do this under the pretence of writing a biography of the Vanger family as his cover story.
What might seem like an impossible case and a way of indulging an old man actually develops (albeit quite slowly at first) into a modern mystery with very severe consequences for the people involved.
While this could have bombed on its backside, Larsson has actually created likeable characters, and given them a lot of depth. Blomkvist is a thoroughly decent person. This comes across so much better in the book than in theatrical versions where I feel he comes across as a bit of a perverted old man. Here, we see him as a family man, a loyal man, a man of principle.
The true magic happens when the two characters of Blomkvist and Salander finally meet. Watching how the story unfolds from this point on is the sort of stuff that keeps your page turning long past bedtime until you work out what is going on. What I love even more is that this book has a point that could be a satisfactory conclusion point to the story. However, that was not enough for Larsson to have just a good story, and he carries it on for another couple of chapters and an epilogue to make sure that there is not one question left in my head about the plot or the characters. If I didn't know that this was a trilogy, I felt that it was a good end point completely for this set of characters and would have been satisfied it was all wrapped up.
This story will appeal most to those who like crime based stories. There are scenes in this novel that cover financial criminal activity, rape and torture. It is done in a very sensitive way, but there are moments in this book that are gory even for a seasoned reader of this genre. I found myself cringing, and I almost cried when I saw these scenes transferred to film. I think that shows how involved that I found myself with these characters. However, I still reckon that it is a fantastic novel that deserves to be read, so I heartily recommend it.
~A Girl with a Dragon Tatoo and not a swedish sauna in sight!~
I must admit that I only read The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo after having watched the original swedish language film based on the book. I found that the film even in its original language was enjoyable to watch, with it having a number of twists and turns that made for an interesting plot line. I bought the book soon after having watched the film and settled down to read it already knowing how things would turn out! This meant that for the book to really hold my interest it would have to be written in a way that would make me not want to put it down rather than struggle on through a few chapters before giving up (after all I knew the ending already!). I must admit that once I got into reading The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo I found it a really good read, with plenty of interest in both the main story and the side plots that eventually become part of the main story.
The author of the book, Stieg Larsson had originally named it Män som hatar kvinnor which translates as Men who Hate Women, a book name that is no where near as catchy or engaging as the one we now know the story as and a title that I would almost certainly have avoided had I seen it on an in store book shop display. Thankfully the updated book title is one that I feel works far better as it is linked to the main female character of Lisbeth Salander who appears in all 3 of the books in the Millennium Trilogy. The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, being the first of the series most certainly had to work hard to hold my interest in order to make me want to finish it and then read on through the other 2 books! Was it a good read then? Well I thought so! I read through the book every evening for a week, although I could have speed read through it far more quickly than I did, as I felt the book was very engaging once it got past its slightly slow start and then propelled its characters head long towards its climax.
As I began to read through the book I found that it seemed to focus mostly on setting up the plot line by introducing Mikael (Kalle) Blomkvist journalist, publisher and part owner of controversial Millennium magazine. Mikael finds himself with more time on his hands than he might have wanted, as he is forced to step away from his normal life in order to stay out of the lime light and takes up an offer from eccentric tycoon Henrik Vanger, who commissions the disgraced investigative journalist to solve the 40 year old mysterious disappearance of a close family member. Once the story really got going I found it hard to put down, however there were many times during the first 100 pages of the book when I found that the incredible amount of detail given by the author was a little tedious to slog through at times, in order to get to the really gripping bits of the book. I am glad to say that I didn't give up reading through these slower sections of the story and once I had gotten into the plot and begun to feel more familiar with the characters within the pages of the book, I soon began to enjoy the little twists and turns of the plot as they were revealed to me.
The main female character Lisbeth Salander, is written in such as way that I soon came to empathise with her situation, as well as admire her strength of mind and ability to over come the problems and situations that she finds herself in. I must admit that in no way did I ever think there was anything very normal about Salander, but I did find the twists and turns of her rather odd life to be well written, giving her a really interesting personality that held my attention. I liked the way in which Lisbeth's life connected both directly and indirectly with that of the main male character Mikael Blomkvist (publisher of the Swedish political magazine Millennium) in the book and yet Stieg Larson didn't immediately have the two characters interacting directly with each other. I thought the author had very cleverly managed to have both their lives intertwining each others, twisting, turning and at times almost connecting, yet still not really knowing each other until much later on in the book.
The main plot line involves both these characters as well as others who work for Millennium Magazine, along with Lisbeths friend of sorts, lawyer and legal guardian Holger Palmgren, Nils Bjurman (in my opinion) his much less human and ever so slightly too sadistic and twisted replacement, Henrik Vanger retired industrialist and former CEO of the Vanger Corporation and the mystery surrounding certain events in the Vanger family. I found that the complicated and long list of supporting characters in the book were well written and interesting, with them all having good back stories to their lives which made me think about their characters in relation to the main theme of the book. I liked the way that I became familiar with each of the characters over the course of time, due to the way in which the author revealed aspects of each persons life little by little. I felt this made them come to life more and more, as I read further into the plot.
~A book thats not afraid to dig deep when it has to~
I would say that the book takes on some interesting and at times controversial subjects which are dealt with in a way that adds to the story rather than sensationalizing things just for the sake of it. There are a number of dark sides to this book that some readers may be a little shocked by, although there is nothing in the book that would be unsuitable for an adult reader to set eyes on in my opinion. As I read through the book I didn't feel that things had been over done, even when some events were revealed to me that were somewhat shocking. I feel that these events were included by the author as there had to be a story behind the behaviour of the characters in the book that was believable to the reader in my opinion.
There are aspects of Salander's life which are odd and at times rather unpalatable to say the least, but I still found myself liking her character and finding both her strengths and vulnerabilities very interesting. I most certainly felt that her sense of right and wrong was both misguided and yet at times 100% right, as through out the book she gave people what she felt they deserved based on how they treated her and those around her. I found that the more I read about Lisbeth, the more I found that she made a very good main female character as she had more sides to her story and history than I first thought. I certainly feel that Stieg Larson did a good job with regards to producing a unique female character that I wanted to read more about in Lisbeth Salander. I also liked the way that the plot came together once Lisbeth and Mikael Blomkvist became acquainted with each other and began to work together in order to see their way through the truths and lies of the Vanger family.
~No plot spoilers here!~
I don't really want to reveal the whole theme and plot of the book too much as I feel that it may spoil things for anyone reading my review so I have only briefly touched on the main plot line, however I do feel that even someone who has already seen either the original swedish language film or the later Hollywood blockbuster would still enjoy reading this story as it was written and intended to be understood by the author. I found that there were characters in the book that I suspected were not what they seemed, as they appeared uneasy and odd in the way they behaved, although had I not already seen the film I would perhaps not have guessed until much later on 'who dunnit' in regards to various situations and outcomes in the book. I enjoyed the way the book rolled on and seemed to open and close doorways into peoples lives throughout, yet never truly led me in the right direction until the last few chapters.
My rating for The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo is 4 stars as I feel it is well written, has a good plot line and engages the reader on a number of levels all the way through to the end. There are aspects of the book that may be shocking to some readers, although these side stories and back stories are there as they provide an insight into the events in not only this book, but the other two books in the series. I found that I looked forwards to my nightly read through the book as Stieg Larson managed to create a range of characters that were engaging on many levels. I feel that the book is actually far better than either of the films as it gives you far more information about events and characters than either of the films managed to give. I would say that even if you have seen one or other of the films, the book can still be an enjoyable read.
The plot line? ... A simple boy meets girl, then both try to solve crime style story perhaps?
Or perhaps not! I felt there was far more to this book than that.
(or in other words, why not read the book to find out)
I am pleased to say that I did exactly that and have gone on to read all 3 books in this series.
~Main characters in the book~
Mikael Blomkvist ~ Disgraced journalist, publisher/ part-owner of Millennium magazine who I feel becomes an interesting central character in the book that helps hold the story together.
Lisbeth Salander ~ A freelance surveillance agent/ researcher on behalf of Milton Security who in my opinion has more facets to her life than a well cut diamond. Lisbeth's story runs through all 3 of the books in the trilogy making it all the more important that her character feels interesting and engaging. Happily I really thought there was plenty of depth to her.
Henrik Vanger ~ head of the Vanger family, retired industrialist and former CEO of the Vanger Corporation who asks Blomkvist to help solve the disappearance of a much loved family member, leading on to a horrifying tale that holds the book together.
Harriet Vanger - Henrik's grandniece, missing in for some 40 years, will she ever be found?
Martin, Gottfried, Isabella, Cecilia, Anita, Birger and Harald Vanger ~ various Vanger family members all with a tale to tell (or not in some cases!) who I feel all have aspects to their characters that make them seem like they could be hiding something that may see one or other revealed as someone other than they appear to be.
Holger Palmgren ~ Salander's sometime friend, lawyer and legal guardian
Nils Bjurman ~ Salander's legal guardian/ sadistic lawyer with a twist (after Palmgren)
Erika Berger ~ Editor-in-chief/ owner of Millennium and rather close friend of Blomkvist
Hans-Erik Wennerström ~ Corrupt billionaire financier
When you are reading this book you will not want to put it down. The author gets you hooked straight away. The characters in there are brilliant - especially the girl with the tattoo!
Some parts of the book do make you feel uncomfortable, just because of the simple fact you are attached to th characters by this point. Some of the things that she has to endure is sickening and it is hard to read at one point but at the same time you have got to carry on to see how she overcomes it because you know she will.
After reading this book, I had to find out what happened next and went on to read the other two books in the triology. I would tell anyone who is buying this book to not buy it without buying the next two as well becuase you will have to read them.
When I got mu kindle this one of the first books i downloaded to take on holiday with me and i am so glad i did. I spent a whole day at the pool reading this book in a day didnt even eat! I thoroughly enjoyed this story which i found enticing and kept me always wondering. I enjoyed the dark side of the book as i thought it was well written and Steig didn't brush past the parts of it. I found every aspect of the book interesting including the specially the computer hacking aspect as i am a bit of an IT Nerd.
The story to this book is fantastic with a the crimes they are graphic and makes you feel everything as they are described so well, yet this book has a romantic side too which i feel would suit many readers if crime isn't their reading genre. You empathise with Lisbeth and feel her pain as she does, when she gets revenge you are elated yet shocked. The part of Lisbeth is dark and mysterious and i am always wanting to find out more about her as a person and what other dark parts of her past my be hidden.
With the Vanger family it is a typical who did it scenario and the book keeps you guessing all along with suspicions with every body. I enjoyed the fact I didn't know who the baddie was till the end as i find with some crime books i can guess but i had no idea with this book.
Overall i found this book a compelling read which made me stop and mention parts to my boyfriend who dislikes reading but i got him hooked. I am really looking forward to reading more books by Steig. I usually read the book before the film as i find the film version leaves parts out that i find interesting in the book, however i found the film just as good as the book and the casting was very good.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was one of those books that was a "must read" sensation a few years back. Beloved of book clubs and TV programmes, virtually everyone you saw seemed to own a copy. Although it was a book I always planned to read, I got round to it a lot later than everyone else. It was worth the wait.
Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist for magazine Millennium. When he is convicted of libelling a leading Swedish industrialist, he is faced with professional ruin. Help comes in the unlikely form of Henrik Vanger, former owner of a major corporation who hires Blomkvist to investigate the disappearance of his granddaughter, Harriet, who vanished without trace over 40 years previously in highly mysterious circumstances. This, in turn, introduces him to the odd, but highly intelligent Lisbeth Salander, the titular Girl.
Despite claims to the contrary, there's not actually a great deal of originality to Dragon Tattoo. As the author has his main character freely admit on several occasions, it is essentially a "locked room" mystery, similar to those written by Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie at the start of the twentieth century. Yet, this lack of originality is not an issue because Larsson proves just as adept at fashioning a compelling story as those earlier writers. He constructs the mystery in an expert way, outlining the problem to the reader and challenging them to try and resolve it before the book's conclusion. So challenged, you are hooked and read avidly as he starts to peel back the secrets of the Vanger family. Information and clues are drip-fed to the reader on a regular basis and keep you interested and intrigued; eager to find out where this latest clue will lead.
At the same time, the investigation manages to stay highly realistic. Blomkvist doesn't stumble across clues that other people have been too stupid to notice or have a sudden and unlikely flash of inspiration that allows him to solve the mystery at a stroke. Instead, he has to work incredibly hard, looking for angles that no-one else has thought of. It's here that his training as an investigative journalist is convincing, as he looks for the odd and out of place. Moreover, Larsson is not afraid to take Blomkvist (and the reader) down dead ends. Just like a real investigation, some seemingly promising clues turn out to have a perfectly innocent explanation, fizzle out disappointingly or lead to dead ends. This helps to build the tension and the sense of mystery. Whenever a new clue is uncovered, you are never sure whether it is going to result in a major breakthrough or nowhere at all. This means that the reader is constantly changing their mind about who the guilty party is, based on new evidence uncovered and you are never really sure until the final revelation is made.
Lest you are running away with the idea that this is a simple murder mystery, it is much deeper than that. As a long standing liberal, Larsson brings in concepts relating to politics, attitudes towards women and big corporations. For the most part, this is not done in a heavy handed, preachy way (although there are a couple of occasions when that is the case), but forms a natural part of the main story and adds further layers of depth. The issue of the treatment of women, and men's attitude towards them, for example, is a crucial, central theme which has direct relevance to the story being told.
Larsson provides an incredible amount of detail in his narrative, which is a bit of a double edged sword. He clearly knows the world of publishing and finance very well, and provides plenty of convincing information. Quite a bit of the book (particularly concerning Blomkvists's experience and background) is autobiographical, and Larsson is sticking to that old adage of writing what he knows about. This helps to create a superb and convincing atmosphere.
He also provides a great deal of background information about his characters. The way they behave, the environments in which they operate and their attitudes to each other are all informed by things that have happened in their lives. Each of the characters carries a great deal of baggage which affects their outlook and Larsson provides this contextual information so that we can better understand the characters.
However, providing this much detail can act as a drag on the main narrative and there were times when I felt that the book was padded with a little too much unnecessary detail. Particularly at the start, I found the pace rather slow and Dragon Tattoo a little hard to get into. I remember Mrs SWSt asking me was I enjoying my book when I was on about page 85. My honest answer at that point was "I don't know. It hasn't really got going yet". Of course, the real value of all that extra information pays off later on, as the rich, rounded characters and convincing environment means that once it has got going, you are gripped. I just worry that some readers may put the book down in frustration before they reach that point.
There's no doubt that it's the richness of the characters that really make this book. Blomkvist makes for an engaging and charismatic lead character. Tenacious, charming, intelligent and somewhat obstinate, he is an interesting character to follow. Similarly, social misfit Lisbeth Salander is a rather different from the lead females we have come to expect from modern novels. She should be utterly dislikeable; her complete disregard for social norms, her calculated, detached outlook on life and her almost complete lack of apparent emotion should make her repellent. Yet, Larsson manages to imbue her with a strong likeable streak that makes her anti-authoritarian attitude interesting, rather than aggressive.
Some of the other characters don't get quite the same level of treatment, but all slot well into the book. There are so many members of the Vanger family, for example that some are better developed than others. There were times when I had to stop and try and think who was who and how they related to some of the other characters (a family tree diagram is helpfully provided at the start of the book for exactly this reason), but this was not a serious impediment to enjoyment.
The only other issue is a very minor one. This book was obviously written in Sweden by a Swedish author with a Swedish audience in mind. As such, there are liberal references to Swedish politicians or Swedish events that would be very familiar to Larsson's core audience, but which are alien to the wider readership the book has attracted. None of these events are central to the plot, but it does occasionally provide the non-Swedish reader with a sense of dislocation; that they are not approaching the book from quite the same angle as the author. Credit, however, must go the translator, who ensures that the language flows very well and this sense of dislocation is limited to a few specific references.
If you've not read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo yet then there's a further piece of good news: it's cheap. Because is shifted so many copies these are now starting to filter down to charity and second hand book stores, where they can be picked up for a couple of quid. I bought this, plus its two sequels for less than the recommended retail price of just one of the titles, which can't be bad!
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
(c) Copyright SWSt 2012
I was warned by my friend who had already read this book to "stick with it, even if you don't want to at first" and she was right.
The start of this book is pretty slow - as it's trying to set the scene and introduce one of the main characters, his situation and how he becomes involved in this murder mystery. If my friend hadn't warned me I might have possibly gave up after the first couple of chapters, but now I'm saying it too - do NOT give up on the book! Once you get into it, it's impossible to put the book down.
I don't want to go into detail about the book so I don't ruin it for anyone who reads it but the story line is really intriguing as well as the characters, it's graphic, well detailed and there are all kinds of twists and turns you don't expect. I guarantee once you get through the first few 'slow' chapters you will not be able to put it down. Once I'd finished I went straight out and bought the other 2 books of the trilogy as I had to find out what happened next.
I was devastated when I finished reading all the three books because I didn't want it to end - my boyfriend was too because he said it was the quietest he'd ever seen me while I'd been reading them!
After hearing all the recent hype about this book I had to give it a go. I'd heard that some of the story is lost in translation, but i find it translates very well, in fact had I not already known it was a Swedish author beforehand I'd probably never of realised.
To sum up it up its a murder mystery/thriller with a traditional yet modern feel, it keeps you guessing throughout and although I feel to much emphasis was sometimes put on detailing rather insignificant characters and background story's, its generally very concise and well written. The two main characters in the book are Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander, with most of the story revolving entirely around these two, this allows Larsson to create some believable and truly original personas. Particularly Lisbeth Salander, as tough as she is vulnerable Lisbeth is the USP of this book as far as im concerned, diversifying the otherwise familiar murder mystery feel.
All in all i think this is a great story, deserved of the hype even. If i had one bad thing to say, I think some of the end of this book should probably have been left for the next one in the series, but thats really the all i can think o, if you fancy a good mystery with plenty of twists and thrills then give this a go, its maturely written yet I feel any ages from 14+ would enjoy this book.
I had been hearing a lot about the Millennium series of books written by Stieg Larsson, what with the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo film coming out at the cinema. I like a good mystery/thriller kind of story and there seemed to be something about this story that I thought I would like. When I got my new Kindle for Christmas I decided to buy myself the three books as my first set of Ebooks.
The girl with the dragon tattoo is the first of the series of books by the author. The story is set in Sweden which is a country that I didn't know anything about except a couple of main town names and the fact that its cold up there. The first thing I noticed when I was reading the book were the place names. They were strange to me and I didn't know how to pronounce them, this made it hard to get my head round some of it as I like to know what I am reading but as I got into the story I found that I could just skim over the town words that I didn't know and it didn't affect the way the story read.
The main characters in the story are Mikail Blomkvist, Lisbeth Salander, and Henrik Vanger. Mikail is a financial journalist and publisher of a magazine called Milennium. At the beginning of the story you find that he has just lost a court case and he has been found guilty of libel against a wealthy business man called Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. This puts the magazine in jeopardy so he decides to distance himself from it for a while. He is asked by another business mad Henrik Vanger to come to Hedeby Island and write a family history book about the industrialist's family and at the same time to look into the disappearance of Henrik's niece Harriet who disappeared off the island 36 years previously and had never been heard of again.
Lisbeth Salander is a young woman who has serious mental issues due to being abused in her childhood. She is a brilliant computer hacker and also has a photographic memory. This stands her in good stead to work for a man called Armansky who runs a security firm and is often asked to do reports on people in a discreet way. Lisbeth is his top reporter although he doesn't know how she manages to find out all the details she does and do such good reports.
Before Vanger employs Mikail Blomkvist he employs Armansky to do a report on him and Lisbeth is the one who does the digging on the journalist. Then later when Blomkvist is starting to delve into the disappearance of the girl and needs a research assistant he decides to ask Lisbeth to help him and a very strange relationship comes together.
I found the story absolutely fascinating. It was gritty and had so many twists and turns to keep you wondering what had happened. I really liked the relationship between Mikael and Lisbeth. You also had the relationship between Mikael and his business partner Erika Berger which through a lot of spanners into the works. I found some of the bits at the beginning a bit hard to follow where the writer was just laying out the court tale and getting you into the story but once I was in it was hard to put the Kindle down. The characters were well written and I found I could imagine them in my head quite easily as to how they looked and the way they did things. The mystery was well drawn out and there were some really exciting bits to the book which were quite dark and scary.
Now I have finished reading the first book I have already started on the second one in the series and looking forward to seeing how the characters carry on with their relationships over the three books.
I just loved this book so much - I immediately bought the other two in the Millenium trilogy for my Kindle.
Larsson's first book of the series gets off to a slow start with his penchant for sometimes laborious detail perhaps a discouragement for some readers. Plough on! Its worth it. The tale soon gets going as the parallel universes of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander begin to intertwine.
Reading it on Kindle can be a bit of a pain at times until you get used to the characters and the background information which Larsson provides as the basis for this and the following two novels. You can't flick back and forth to re-read like you can with a paper book...but you'll soon get the hang of it.
Despite her alternative and challenging appearance and character, Larsson soon has you feeling some empathy for Salander...this will only grow as you follow her story through the trilogy.....Oh yes, don't think you can stop reading after The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you can't...you've just got to read the other two!
This is a must read...the only downsides being that I've now bought three books, have a longing to visit Sweden and a mortal fear of seeing the film because I'm too scared!!!
There was a lot of hype for this book, and for the film adaptation, that I wanted to check it out for myself. The foreign language and location put me off slightly, thinking that it could confuse my tiny brain, but it turned out to be an interesting and intelligent read. Overall, whilst this may not appeal to all, it appeased me to an extent as a crime thriller fan.
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is actually the first novel within the 'Millennium' series. This introduces us to Mikael Blomvist, a disgraced publisher of the Millennium magazine in Sweden after losing a libel case following his accusations about a rich industrialist, Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Forced to make some tough decisions, Blomvist knows Wennerstrom is going to do whatever he can to bring the paper down so he finds himself needing to get away for a while to wait the storm out. The allegations were seemingly unfounded legally, but it's Blomvist's conviction, and that of the editor-in-chief and on-off lover, Erik Burger that he's a shady character who they will eventually bring down. But for now, he needs to go away to let the newspaper repair itself and prepare himself to launch at Wennerstrom again in the near future.
Enter Henrik Vanger, an old man but head of the prolific Vanger Corporation. Through his lawyer he gets in touch with Blomvist to make him a proposal, and a strange one at that. He wants Blomvist to spend a year living with him on the island that houses much of the Vanger family and employees. During this time he wants him to investigate the disappearance of a young female relative, Harriet, 36 years earlier. He also wants him to write a book on the Vanger family history, which will be used as a cover story should suspicions be raised as to why Blomvist is there and digging up old dirst. He's not a private investigator, but he is a journalist with a nose, even though the concept of solving an unsolved disappearance so long after the fact seems almost impossible.
What could tempt Blomvist to do such a thing, move his life elsewhere for a whole year and attempt to solve this mystery? Vanger offers a hefty lump sum in addition to his accommodation, as well as promising to give some dirt on Blomvists' arch nemesis, Wennerstrom, at the completion of the 1 year assignment. It doesn't matter if the case isn't solved, Vanger just wants one last try before it's too late.
In helping Henrik decide Blomvist was suitable for the role, not just based on the fact he played with his current vulnerabilities after the libel case, he hired a young woman to do a thorough background investigation on him. Lisbeth Salander gets her orders to do the search from her boss, Armansky, where she works at Milton Security. Although a strange creature, Salander obviously has a talent, and it's this talent that Blomvist also discovers when he finds it was her who conducted a secret background search on him. He later enlists her help on this mammoth case, a mystery with no leads at first that soon spirals.
Throughout the book we learn of Blomvist's efforts to meet and greet the Vanger family, to learn about the day of the disappearance, about Harriet, about the potential witnesses and purpetrators. Vanger is convinced the disappearance was a murder, carried out by one of the Vanger clan. Bear in mind the clan is huge, including Gottfried (Harriet's deceased father), Birger, Cecilia, Isabella (Harriet's mum) amongst many others, related and otherwise. Why was it one of those? Because on that day the island was closed off, so it's a bit like a locked room mystery; only certain people could be responsible. But who, and why? As he digs deeper, Blomvist discovers the intricacies and darkness that lies within the Vanger corporation and family, and gradually it appears that perhaps there is a chance he could get Henrik some answers he has hoped for for the last 36 years since the day she went missing. The question is can Blomvist crack the mystery, or will his presence be unwanted? And will he ever be able to knock down Wennerstrom?
We also learn a lot about various individuals and their relationships to each other, along with some background history to fill out the gaps and flesh out the characters. I liked that there was a web of characters as this made it feel more detailed and varied, but it did get quite confusing at times trying to remember who's who and how they're related. For instance, a great focus of the novel is on the Vanger family, which is huge, and I'm not great at remembering how relations are, well, related. Luckily, Larsson is quite clear with his descriptions and recaps characters and ties along the way without overdoing it, just enough so that you don't get too lost or left behind with what's happening.
As for the characters themselves, most that were of importance in the novel were covered with enough depth that you could imagine them and try to empathise with their situation. However, I wouldn't say that they were as three dimensional as they could have been to create the maximum sense of empathy. For me, the vivid descriptions and background history on Salander was the most predominant, giving us an idea of her both visually and emotionally. I liked her as a character and she seemed quite quirky, adding a different slant to the novel because we don't have the Hollywood teeth and bodies and suburban houses in this book.
That leads me on to the setting itself in Sweden. Reading about the areas was like a breath of fresh air from the crime thrillers I'm used to, transporting the reader out of the box and in to what really is a different life. The descriptions were vivid and colourful, painting a picture of brutally cold weather, scenic landscapes, small coffee shops, a large island set out of the way of anything Hollywood. I wasn't sure how easy such a scenario would be to imagine, but Larsson does it well by bringing the situation to the fore and breathing life in to it.
The book on the whole was fairly easy to pick up and read, with chapters also being split up slightly by a star or a double space in parts. It does require commitment and attention to get to grips with the plot and the characters as it is an intelligent read, but one that feels fulfilling and makes sense.
There were a few key themes that ran through the book which added a sense of authenticity and meaningfulness to the premise and some background on the author and situation at the time of writing. For instance, the themes of sexual abuse, moral decay, investigative journalism needing to unconver financial scoundrels, and the hidden darkness of Nazism. Such themes gave greater depth to the book and added another overlay to the main premise. What I also found interesting, and what ties in to the underlying themes, is the small blurb I read about the author. He witnessed a gang rape when he was 15 of a girl called Lisbeth, who he couldn't help at the time but has transformed in to a key character within his books. Interestingly enough, the original title in Sweden translated to 'Men who hate women'; his themes and motivations come across well through his writing without being too blatant or too melodramatic so as to detract from the main premise or characters.
What I found a tad disappointing was actually the ending. The book is strung out over several months as the protagonist does his investigating for both his paper and for Henrik, but I found the conclusion to be somewhat vague in a sense. I was glad to see there was again no 'Hollywood' finish, nothing sickly sweet as could have been expected given the romantic / sexual themes that were developing, but at the same time I could see why Larsson was leaving it where he did. This book is just the start, so it left doors open for the next instalments. At times I also thought it dragged a little, but on the whole the pace was fairly consistent and active, making it interesting to read, always wondering where things could go next.
Further praise for the book includes: "A publishing sensation who seemingly came from nowhere ... crime fiction has seldom needed to salute and mourn such a stellar talent as Larsson s in the same breath" - Sunday Times, and "Just when I was thinking there wasn't anything new on the horizon, along comes Stieg Larsson with this wonderfully unique story. I was completely absorbed" - Michael Connelly. It has also won awards, including the Glass Key Award of 2006 in Sweden and the 2009 Galaxy Book Awards, so it's obviously doing something right.
Overall, I would say that this book was intelligent and absorbing, creating a space for the reader to get lost in outside of our seemingly 'routine' Western lives. It's gripping, however, for me, this didn't quite have the same appeal as some of my favourite novelists partly because I wanted to be more engrossed by other characters, such as Blomvist. Having said that, it is one I'd recommend, even just to see for yourself what the hype is all about.
554 pages (newer paperback release with the US film cover) over 29 chapters plus epilogue
RRP £7.99, selling on Amazon for £3.86
'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo' is the first part of the award winning trilogy of books by Swedish author Steig Larsson entitled 'The Millenium Trilogy'.
The book focuses around a young heroine Lisbeth a young 'punk' with severe emotional issues but with a gift for IT security and hacking, she forms an unlikely friendship with disgraced journalist Michael Blomkvist who is awaiting a prison sentence for criminal libel against a top Swedish entreapenour.
Blomkvist is hired by an eccentric and wealthy industrialist to track down his missing niece. As Blomkvist's investigations gain momentum and his unusual friendship with Lisbeth blossoms things are never what they seem.
Before both Blomkvist and Lisbeth realise they are drawn into a world of secret poltics, ritualistic murders, dark and forgotten secrets and something which could tear their own worlds apart.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a excellent start to the millenium trilogy and a great read.
Wow!!! This is probably one of the best books I have read. It is gripping, intriguing and just when you think you have it figured out - you haven't! Well maybe that's just me but there are twists and turns to this book, it is really hard to put it down once you start reading.
The first few chapters are relatively uninteresting and I nearly gave up. I only persevered because my work colleague had read the book and told me to keep going.
The author Steig Larsson was Swedish and the book is set in Sweden, so expect some unfamiliar character names and places. Keeping up with who's who was something I struggled with in the book.
The book is what I would class as a crime thriller.
The book appears to have two separate stories being written. One story focuses on a young girl called Lisbeth Salander. She is a bit odd and antisocial but extremely intelligent. She works for a Security company and specializes in investigating people on client's requests. The other story focuses on a man called Mikael Blomkvist who is an investigative reporter for a magazine called Millennium. He publishes a story which see's him facing charges in court and ends up with a 3 month prison sentence. He ends up resigning from Millennium for the sake of the magazine, which he co-owns.
He is approached by another character called Henrik Vagner who wants Blomkvist to live on his estate for a year and investigate the disappearance of his granddaughter, which happened 30 years ago. He offers Blomkvist a huge amount of money to take on this assignment whether he manages to solve the disappearance or not. He also offers Blomkvist proof that the story he published at Millennium, which gave him a 3 month prison sentence, was in fact true.
The book is all about the investigation into the disappearance. Blomkvist and Salander eventually meet when she helps him investigate.
This is such a brilliant book to read but can be a little hard going in places. There is a lot of text about finance and politics which I found hard to keep up with but the ongoing story kept me hooked. I would 100% recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a challenging read.
Dragon girl = a good read. I was recommended this book by a friend so I borrowed her copy and took it on holiday. The book is set in Sweden and has a very 21st Centruy, economic and cultural feel. It is all about investigative journalism mixed with a girl with mental health problems and an alternative murder mystery. The dragon tattoo in the title doesn't bear much relevance in the story but the lead protagonist's actions and attitude retains your interest and intrigue. She has a completely different way of life and becomes a fantasy of how life would be like if you had no regards for others and their possessions. This is an interesting concept as we are all guilty of worrying a little too much of what people think of us. She hacks into people's minds by modern day communication to expose their crimes against society and with help from a notorious writer, they expose through a fictional magazine called Millennium. It is the first book of three and the hype surrounding the book shouldn't be ignored and put you off reading it. Once you get past the first chapter (Stay with it, it is quite dry) you will be hooked and it will enhance your poolside / beach experience. I am currently reading book two, I'm not on holiday and considering spending the whole of the weekend finishing the book. The dragon books are an intriguing trilogy for a read at any time of the year.
One of my collegues from work recommended this book to me and to be honest i had never heard of Steig Larsson and was expecting the same old thriller story. I dont think I could have been more wrong. This is definatley one of the best books i have read in the last few months (apart from the other books in the series). It was quite hard going trying to get into the book, but after the first couple of chapters i was definately hooked and could not put the book down. I think the story line was great and always kept me wanting to just read a couple of more pages - until i had finshed reading the whole book. It is most definately a book that i would recommend to people. Since reading this book i have read the next books in the series and have also watched the dvds.E
This is the first book in the world-famous Millennium trilogy, by Stieg Larsson. Larsson was Swedish, and consequently the books have been translated from Swedish into several other languages, including English. It was also adapted into a film in 2009, which took the equivalent of nearly £2million in its opening week in Sweden. As of this time last year, Larsson had sold more than 20million copies in 41 countries - the entire series has clearly been resoundingly popular all around the world, and the titles have become household names.
Stieg Larsson died in 2004 at the age of 50 after a sudden heart attack. He had just delivered the texts for his three books to the publishers, so sadly he never saw his books published - or indeed the worldwide phenomenon that his works became.
As a result, he was obviously never able to comment on or give interviews about his books, but it is quite clear where he found his inspiration. When he was 15 he witnessed the gang rape of a young girl called Lisbeth - he never forgave himself for not being able to help her, and if you've read the book you'll realise the relevance of this.
The original Swedish title of 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo' was 'Män Som Hatar Kvinnor', or 'Men Who Hate Women'. I think that perhaps this direct translation would have been a more fitting title for the English version, as it certainly describes a prominent theme which runs throughout the text.
Mikael Blomkvist is an investigative journalist, convicted of libel after publishing a damaging article on a prominent Swedish businessman, Wennerström. His magazine, Millennium, starts failing dramatically as a result, so Blomkvist decides to take some time away from the magazine to let things die down, before he can start rebuilding the magazine along with a further attack against Wennerström.
Around the same time as he decides to distance himself from the magazine, Blomkvist is approached by another prominent Swedish businessman, Henrik Vanger - former CEO of the Vanger Corporation, and head of the complicatedly-entwined Vanger family. Vanger makes Blomkvist a proposal: live for a year with the rest of the Vanger family, and write a book to chronicle the Vanger family history. However, Vanger wants this to hide Blomkvist's true objective - to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Harriet Vanger (Henrik's granddaughter) almost forty years previously.
Blomkvist takes up Vanger's offer, and as he starts to unravel the complicated history of the Vanger family, enlists the help of the socially-awkward, often-underestimated but super-sharp computer hacker, Lisbeth Salander.
Together, the unlikely pair delves deeper and deeper into the Vanger family's secrets, discovering lies, betrayal, madness - and a lot of skeletons in the closets. As things become increasingly dangerous for them, they begin to realise the strength and power of the Vanger family...someone is out to stop their investigations. But who? And why?
---The Verdict: Is It All It's Cracked Up To Be?---
Absolutely is it all it's cracked up to be! But let's not get over-excited, take things one step at a time...
First thing's first. The beginning of the book (I'm talking the first chapter or two) contains quite a bit of detail about the Wennerström Affair - the article that was published by Blomkvist, which led him to be charged with libel. It's all about finance, and the structure of Wennerström's companies, which was at first a little intimidating. I know next to nothing about how large companies are structured, financed or run - let alone those in Sweden, and I remember thinking that the book wouldn't really be my thing. However, I stuck with it, and it turned out that a lot of the detail given is superfluous. All you really need to know is that Wennerström ran some dodgy and underhand operations, and that he was a bad man! Don't let all the detail put you off: getting bogged down with trying to understand all of it won't be worth it, as it's not really relevant to the rest of the story. Just stick to the basics with all the financial and business jargon!
Having said all that, I'm making a bigger deal of all that than it actually was - it certainly wasn't worth knocking off a star, it doesn't detract from the story, and it didn't last long at all. For me, plot and characterisation are the two most important things in any book - and in 'The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo', both are executed brilliantly.
The characterisation is superb - Mikael Blomkvist is one of the easiest characters to relate to that I've ever come across. He's laid back, has a vice for no-strings-attached sex with his long-term friend and colleague Erika Berger, and becomes frustrated when he can't stand up for what he believes in - all these characteristics are beautifully and effortlessly conveyed, and make him seem, well...human.
Lisbeth Salander's character is so striking that in real life she'd probably be too unusual to live as she does in the book. However, she is described so clearly, and her incredible intelligence means you can visualise her and understand her point of view as if it were your own - no matter how unconventional (or illegal!) it may seem.
There aren't lots of fancy adjectives or other techniques used to describe any of the characters - I can't really describe how it's done, but the bizarre partnership, along with their interactions with Erika and the Vanger family, seem like the most natural relationships in the world.
As for the plot: I can't fault it. The main story follows Blomkvist's search into the Vanger family's past, but there are several sub-plots to follow as well. Each is clearly defined by paragraph breaks, and the character and settings make it immediately clear what's being spoken about in each part. When it comes to the plot, there is no confusion whatsoever.
The plot is pacy, but not overly so. You may feel it slows down quite a lot in certain places, but far from becoming boring it works with the rest of the book - too much pace and excitement can also get a bit tedious. The mystery of what happened to Harriet is enticing and leaves you as the reader both interested and guessing the whole time.
Larsson's writing style is so simple and clear that this book is consequently very easy to read. Add this to the excitement that you'll get from the plot, and this book is definitely a page-turner. I couldn't put this book down - and the sun we've had recently gave me the perfect excuse to work my way through it!
I could go on for hours talking about this book, but I'll try not to go on for too long!
One thing I was worried about before I started reading was all the Swedish names. It's bad enough when I read an English book and all the characters have similar names; Joe, John, Joshua, Gill and Jenna...I'm all over the place and have no idea who's who! I certainly worried that this problem would increase tenfold with all the Swedish names. Plus, on opening the book I was provided with a Vanger family tree - this set alarm bells ringing as any book that needs the illustration of a family tree is bound to be confusing!
However, I needn't have been worried at all. The characters all had totally different names, as the brothers Henrik and Harald Vanger were about the most similar they came. Thankfully, I was rarely left confused about who a character was, and found I didn't even have to refer to the family tree once! I think this clarity was down to the clear writing style, and that excellent characterisation, once again...
For me, this book definitely lived up to the hype and deserves every bit of credit and recognition it gets. I'm finding it virtually impossible to put my finger on exactly what it is that makes it so special, but there's no doubt that this book is in a league of its own. The storyline is both impeccable, intriguing and exciting all at the same time, and it's written in such a way that it's so easy to read. I think it's the characters that really make this book, though, as they're compelling to follow yet so easy to relate to at the same time. It's the characters that have already enticed me into making my way through the second book in the series (which, by the way, looks set to be just as brilliant by all accounts!).
It's just a pity that Larsson died so young, with so much untapped potential left inside him...
Everyone I've spoken to who has read this book has been amazed by it - it's already become one of my favourite books, and is no doubt one of the books you must read before you die!
You get the book...and you get the film. I was very keen to see the film a few months ago, and now that I've read the book I'm glad I didn't see the film. It's the type of book where it's so exciting and interesting to visualise in your mind's eye, that for me, any attempt to recreate the scenes on film would just ruin it. I haven't seen the film and don't wish to, but if you're toying about which to do first, I'd recommend you read the book.
You can currently buy a new copy of this book for £3.89 from Amazon (BARGAIN!!), or for £6.39 from The Book People.
I used the following websites for reference, and to gather some of the information included in the 'Background' section: