An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.
Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.
Genre: Mystery – Thriller – Crime
Page count: 465
Year of publishing: 2005
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.45/5)
WARNING! This is going to be a long TED Talk because:
I could talk about this book all day without breathing pauses and I’d still not finish everything I want to say about it.
Also, I might use some bad words throughout this review (oopsie!) because it made me feel things.
“I’d reckon you’d bite off my hand if I laid a finger on you”
As Dragan Armansky felt in that particular moment about Lisbeth Salander, I felt that about her the whole book. And I must say that I liked feeling that way about her. That means that she has some sort of wilderness in her personality that makes her so interesting, not only as a character but also as a possible real-life person.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo made me ascend through different stages while reading it. I rarely find a book like this one, to make me feel all sorts of feelings towards it, from all the levels of human sensitivity in thinking. If I’d have to layer the stages of my process of reading this book, probably it would go like this:
- Level 1: Confusion
I was extremely confused with the beginning. I think I had to read it at least five times to actually get a grip of the story in the beginning. Maybe it is because I was briefly introduced in the middle of a scene with unknown characters and undiscovered plot. I don’t know, but I had a hard time with it anyway.
- Level 2: Boredom
I’ve had a hard time convincing myself that this book deserves to be read because of the epic state of boredom that I encountered. I spent two hours reading without stopping only to find out I’ve made only 4% progress (yes, I read it on my tablet because I don’t have enough finances to buy all the books I want and also survive in the capital city of Romania as a student who is away from home and also likes to eat). I kept asking myself what was this bug of boredom that I had and then…it hit me. TOO MUCH ECONOMIC TALK. As a student at the Academy of Economic Studies, my interest should’ve been aroused. Even more – as I study Business Administration, all the business talk should be some delicious dessert for me. But NA-AH. I am bored enough by the countless hours of business terminology, ideology and any other –ology that shit implies, I don’t need to read about it in my spare time too. But hey, why not creeping some of that ish in my casual reading to keep the brain on its right track of self-destruction, ceteris paribus?
- Level 3: Spark of interest
After about 100 pages (I reckon even more) something started working for me. In the right way. I said: “Okay, something is finally started to move in this hot mess” so I kept reading. And I didn’t regret it. The mystery started to crawl at the surface so I could see and touch it and also expect more and more. Then, the author added some interesting family dirt (that I absolutely love, don’t judge me, I have a weird family too, amazingly weird, if I may add) and also some World War 2 references (all these besides the actual mystery of Harriet Vagner’s disappearance and also possible murder). I don’t know what happened from that moment on, but it started being good. Like really good. Everything was told in such an easy and simple way that I had no idea how it made it enjoyable to read, but it did. It’s just…you can feel the mystery, especially because the book gives you almost 0.1 details about the possible murder. Your inner Miss Marple must be intrigued. Mine was for sure.
- Level 4: Outrage and disgust
Since now, I haven’t talked much about the eponym of the book, right? Well, let me talk then. Lisbeth Salander. And the surely nauseous manner in which she was treated. How do you expect anyone with at least a bit of empathy and humanity not to be OUTRAGED and DISGUSTED by the rape scenes through which Lisbeth has been put? It is absolutely indisputable, morally wrong and socially disgraceful. I am going to be very mean and very direct and I am going to ask a question: What level of psychical constipation do you need to have to pursue such an abominable act?
Anyway, the most outrageous thing of them all is that (I am very afraid) it is real. The things that were described in those scenes by Stieg Larsson are just some fragments of the horror show that is happening every day, everywhere, when and where you don’t think it would happen. These passages of the book are part of the dark pleasure of the mentally and emotionally destroyed ones. Those passages made me very sick. And very sad. Truly. I felt nauseous after all. But then…
- Level 5: ‘She’s a fucking genius-ass boss and I’m here for it’
Lisbeth Salander is a bloody queen and you can’t make me change my mind even with an AK-47 glued on my temple. She’s ice cold, but she’s breathing fire. She’s the fool of the village, but she’s the hero of the nation. She’s invisible, but she’s not transparent. The way she seems not to care about anything that may interfere with her principles and also the way she cares about things but never speak them up is just so her, so part of the true individual she is, even though she might look unrealistic constructed. You do you, girl. You do you.
The fact that, until the middle of the book, Salander and Blomkvist didn’t meet and also ‘the girl with the dragon tattoo’ was reduced only to a few scenes made me question my reading choice. I was on board only for Salander, because she captured my interest from the first time she appeared in scene. But then, Pippi Longstocking and Kalle Blomkvist merged together and gave life to this fabulous Swedish detective dream team and I was down for it.
As I previously warned, I could talk about this book for ages and ages and still did not cover everything I would like to say about it because it intrigued me and it gave me some controversial thoughts that I hated and enjoyed all the same.
Talking about the characters of the book, the female characters were such badass women it felt so good reading about them (super businesswomen taking over multinational companies? Yes, please!). I couldn’t feel any real connection towards the male characters, however, except for Blomkvist. Even though he is a lousy father and husband and he has some shaky ethics in life, he is definitely a good man by his nature. Yes, he has his own issues, but who doesn’t? Yes, he was having a not so secret love affair with his best friend and business partner, Erika Berger, but as long as they didn’t make a secret out of it, I can’t say that it is that punishable. And, also, because we are still on the topic: Erika Berger. I absolutely loved her. She is a witty businesswoman, with a lot of gut and a lot of cold blood to make decisions and to run her own world. She’s a strong woman who makes her own living out of her own life and enjoys it as it is, never letting anyone getting to her with crap.
But. The most important character of all, the one that I absolutely loved beyond any other character is…ladies and gentlemen…*drumrolls*…Lisbeth Salander!
I can’t tell you why I feel this way about Salander, but she was my absolute favourite since the very first moment I met her. The passive way that she adopted, the cold feelings that she spread, the taciturn nature and her absolutely killer mind just had me on board. Everyone saw Salander as a victim of society, but I felt that that was wrong. I have never had that feeling about her. She always inspired me survival. She was a fighter by nature and fighters always survive. And this is how Salander made her way through life. Also, let’s be honest now, she has a killer T-Shirt taste, like seriously badass (see ‘Armageddon was yesterday, today we have a serious problem’ and ‘I can be a regular bitch. Just try me’).
In conclusion, this book gave me such a hard time I cannot explain, but it was also a really good book that I might consider as one of my own personal favourites. Also, as a side note: has anyone notice how much coffee do those people drink?? Or it’s just me?