So for the first time in a long time, I’m going to write me a review, ’cause…why the hell not?
I generally stay away from books that appear on the New York Times bestseller list. If Oprah’s seal of approval appears on the cover, I’m ten times more likely to throw the book on the ground and run for the hills.
This isn’t really a rational way of thinking, more of a snooty, anti-populist way of thinking that I’ve been trying to curb. After all, things are popular for a reason and maybe it’s because the thing in question is really good.
So after encountering The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at every corner and having appear in places I usually don’t notice books, like the grocery store, I decided to give the damn thing a try. I’ve got a Kindle, I might as well put it to work.
And now I’m done reading it and I don’t know what I think.
It’s an interesting book, from the perspective of a writer, because it looks very much like Stieg Larsson was figuring out how to write a novel as he wrote it. The prologue was painful, awkward, stilted and nearly got me to delete it from the Kindle. If I hadn’t paid for it, I would have stopped reading it, just based on those opening ten pages.
But the book got better, because, in part, because Mr. Larsson got better. His characters are, across the board, fairly interesting and complex creatures, believable in their motivations and actions. Of course, the best part of the book was Lisbeth Salander. She’s quirky, vicious, socially inept, intelligent and firm in her beliefs about how to deal with the world. In every way, the kind of character I enjoy reading about. She’s another version of detectives like Holmes and Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe: those individuals who are terribly flawed human beings (at least from the perspective of the people around them) and yet, continue to do what they consider the right thing in spite of all the pressures not to.
The mystery aspect of the plot was worthy of both of the detective characters and was riveting from beginning to end. The only problem is, the mystery doesn’t start till a third of the way into the book and ends well before the book ends. A considerable chunk of time is taken up to describe business crime. Give me murders over corporate shenanigans any day. The corporate menace that lurks over the entire story is not as interesting as the murder mystery. All it does is steal time from the best parts of the book.
I will, most likely, pick up the next book in the trilogy, if only to learn more about Lisbeth Salandar, but I’ll cry if I have to read several hundred pages about business magazines and journalists and accounts whose figures DO NOT ADD UP.