The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – Review

At this point, there isn’t much to stay about Larsson’s posthumous hit that hasn’t already been said. It’s a good read. It’s quick. It’s thoroughly entertaining. At times, the writing is a bit weak, Larsson does labor through his characters at times (especially Salander – I got the impression that Larsson knew what he wanted the woman to be like but had a difficult time presenting her to us without beating us over the head with the traits he thought important). Blomkvist and Berger are characters the author clearly feels more comfortable with and who he creates with ease. It’s understandable, given how Blomkvist seems to be taken largely from Larsson’s own life, while Salander seems to be the antithesis of this, but it still stood out for its occasional clunkiness.

I’m not a huge mystery/thriller reader any more (though I used to love Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot mysteries, this seems to fall into somewhat of a different realm), so I can’t really speak to how it stands in its genre, or what it brings that is new or fresh. There are times where Salander’s ability to just pull something off the web seems like Holmes making a sudden leap in deduction where we’re never sure how or why he made the leap (or we’re given the reasons after the fact) and it seems a bit too convenient. Oddly enough, where the story works best is when she is without a computer, such as towards the end where she is forced to do some footwork and go through actual archives to find something. When the fallback of “Well, she’s a hacker” is taken away, I think Larsson’s writing picks up a notch and we begin to see how skilled of a writer he was and what he could have become.

Finally, what really stood out, was how closely the book resembled the original foreign movie version. There are some minor differences (such as the circumstances of Martin’s final scenes in either work, though the end result is the same), but I don’t recall anything huge. Also, the casting was dead-on, as I found myself envisioning characters roughly similar to those in the movie. I always hear the complaint that movies don’t do a book justice; though this is usually because someone is unhappy their favorite, entirely unnecessary, scene was left on the cutting room floor. The original foreign release did justice to the book. So, if you’ve seen the movie but have been hesitant about the book, or vice versa, you don’t have any real fears here. If you liked one, you will almost certainly like the other. The later American release, however, I have no idea about. I didn’t watch it.

So, give it a shot. It’s a good read, I found it quick, not something to be labored with. A good summer read. Here is the Banes and Noble link.


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