After being intrigued with the sudden hype on this crime novel, I decided to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (first of the Millennium series) by Stieg Larsson.
The plot centers on three points. Mikael Blomkvist is in a tight spot after being involved in a libel case due to what he had published making his journalist career come to a sudden downfall; Lisbeth Salander, one of the top investigators of a security company and seen by the society as a social outcast, had came to investigate on Mikael as part of her work; and the mystery of the disappearing member of the Vanger family of 1966, which will intertwine both Blomkvist’s and Salander’s futures.
Blomkvist decides to uncover the truth about the Vanger mystery in order to redeem himself from his journalistic misery. He seemed disheartened with the idea at first but as he goes deeper into the mystery, dark secrets start to unveil themselves to him.
A journalist, a social outcast, and a mystery waiting to be solved—what will happen if they all meet at the same path?
This book is certainly much more than a crime or mystery novel. There are many dimensions in the book that speak for themselves and as they meet each other, they do give great impressions to the reader.
The book for me was told in a serene tone that could have been mistaken as the book being slow even if it was dubbed as a mystery novel or a crime fiction. If it were other books with that tone, I could have easily closed the book and looked for other, but I was not discouraged in continuing it. It is indeed initially told in a not-so-startling way yet as it was beautifully and intelligently written, it wasn’t really hard to be able to absorb the story.
Characterization-wise, Larsson was able to pull it off magnificently, especially the main characters. My favorite character would be Salander, which Larsson portrayed as a hard-headed girl that is seen by others as a nutcase. Throughout the whole book, there is indeed developing attributes in her character (as well as the others) which is actually a very good thing. Larsson did not stereotype his own characters, thus, taking them out of their shells and introducing them to the readers.
As the book was originally written in Swedish, the question of translation will most likely be brought up. I think the book’s language was fairly justified, though I’m not really the authority to say that because I haven’t read (and won’t understand) the original text. But the language used is sufficient to supply the right mood for the book. The vocabulary also gave way for the journalistic and business backgrounds that are found in the story.
The crime/mystery part of the book isn’t something that really awed me. I did not find that part as really gripping. With that said, I still believe that this book is certainly worth reading. The funny part for me is that what I was looking forward throughout the book is not the outcome of the mystery within the Vanger family but the journalistic adventure that Blomkvist is going through. (Though this may be a little bit biased since I am currently studying a Journalism course in college. :P ) And I also saw Salander’s life as really amusing.
Salander’s dilemma, Blomkvist’s quandary, and the mystery waiting to be solved 40 years ago. Each of these present ideas that can easily appeal to the readers even if presented individually. Having them in the same book is pretty wicked awesome. There is really something for everyone who decides to grab this book.
Sensitive issues such as abuse, murder, and crime illustrate themselves in the story once in a while, sometimes even taking the center point of the story. Occasional sexual content is also present in the book but they are actually needed in the story. Larsson showcased these in a manner that they give the proper impact on the readers.
"…If there's one thing I've learned, it's never engage in a fight you're sure to lose. On the other hand, never let anyone who has insulted you get away with it. Bide your time and strike back when you're in a position of strength--even if you no longer need to strike back”
In a concise review:
The intelligent plot and complex characters seen inside the book made The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo transcend the definition of a mystery/crime novel.