Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I picked this book up because Sweden itself keeps popping up into my everyday conversations. The story painted Sweden with a not-entirely flattering brush - which surprised me; specifically the underlying theme of misogyny that permeate the tale. I don't mean to suggest that the main characters are misogynistic - far from it - but their lives are constantly shaped by the misogyny around them. It makes me wonder how prevalent the attitudes described in the book are in actuality with Sweden.

The title character, the girl, is Lisbeth Salander. She is a bit of an enigma who has clearly suffered some horrible tragedies and is thus completely anti-social toward almost everyone. However, she is also a talented hacker who utilizes her skills in her position as a security researcher for a private security company. Because of this position she is eventually drawn into a nightmarish tale that dates back over 40 years. Fortunately for Mikael Blomkvist, a financial journalist who is equally committed to the tragedies, Salander is also a tenacious fighter who hates one thing above all else - women hating men; which coincidentally is close to the original name of the book "Men Who Hate Women." Had I known that before picking up the novel I wouldn't have been so surprised at the attitude of so many of the secondary male characters.

The story starts leading the reader to believe the tale will be about the Wennestrom affair but the majority of the novel basically ignores Wennestrom and, instead, focuses on the Vanger family - a wealthy but disfunctional family with sprawling, but fading, business interests within Sweden.

Stieg Larsson does a fine job of telling a compelling tale that kept me sucked in and awake late into the night as I poured through the pages in order to find out the resolution. However, at times, Larsson seemed to get bogged down in excessive details; specifically about particular items aquired by the characters. For instance, at no point did I need to know the amount of RAM within Salander's new Macbook. Fortunately, that is the only real criticism I have of Larsson's writing style and I throughly enjoyed the book.

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