Friday, July 9, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, Reg Keeland (Translator) - Book Review #50

Friday, July 9, 2010
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson, Reg Keeland (Translator)

Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch--and there's always a catch--is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson's novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don't want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

So I gave in to another bestseller that I had no interest in for years. And I did it because pretty much one phrase that my husband said: “You are going to love Lisbeth Salander.” And, oh boy, he knows me so well, because I did, I’m most certainly did! Salander is my type of a character. She is smart, resourceful, full of surprises, a bit crazy, unaccepted by society, but not caring about this, with almost no moral restrains and she is a kick-ass. Even though I wouldn’t call her a main character, she is the main reason I liked this book.

Multi-layered plot was another reason why I liked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This is not a book you would call simple or easy. Larsson mixed together so many issues and topics – from Nazis to sexual sadism, from religious fanaticism to shady business dealings, from violence against women and creepy perverts to dysfunctional family secrets. I guess I just got too tired of one dimensional characters and plots that why Larsson’s colorful multi-layerness was more than welcome.

Family secrets theme was another thing I couldn’t resist. Family secrets that has been lurking though decades, generations and even centuries? Yes, please! The family tree with countless uncles, grand-nieces and other siblings? Fat photo-albums full of faded, back-and-white tragedies, happiness and enigmas? Yes, please! And finally, the family members that are ready to take these carefully guarded secrets to the grave? Oh yes, yes, please!

What else made me like this book? It’s humor. Some scenes are absolutely hilarious. I ‘m not going to mention anything in particular, not to spoil for those who haven’t read this book yet, thought I’m sure there aren’t many; I will only mention one sentence. However, you would need to read a book to understand the humor. Mikael Blomkvist’s book dedication: “To Sally, who showed me the benefit of the spot of golf.” It is a short and simple dedication, but there is so much more in it!

There were also some moments in this book that annoyed me. First of all, I don’t like the format of the novel when one story if wrapped around another one. First, author is making me interested in one story, then drops it in the middle and starts a new one. I’m getting into the second story and staying with it till the end. At this moment I feel like I’m done with this book, but… wait a second, dear reader. Do you remember the first story I dropped in the middle? Yes, the one that I got you hooked up with. So I need to finish it now. And we are back to the first story. I can’t even explain why, but it annoys me a great deal. I guess I don’t like starting a new story when the initial is not finished.

Second, some moments in the middle of the book were dull and repetitive, so they made the story drag. In my opinion, it could have been cut out.

Third, characters’ names and places were so close to each other that sometimes it was hard to follow the story. Thanks god, for the family tree diagram, to which I was referring constantly. Henrik, Harriet and Harald who lives in Hedeby, close to Hedesad. Gottfried, Gustav, Gregor, Gerda. Berger and Birger. So you got the picture.

And the last, but not least I kept wondering why, oh why the book was titled The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo? Ok, Lisbeth has a dragon tattoo, but she is not even a main character and her tattoo certainly doesn’t play any role in the story. Then I found out the original title – Men Who Hate Women – and that title made so much more sense. This is an example why I don’t like reading translations and if I have a chance, I will always choose an original, because translators sometimes bring their creativity where it is not needed.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a kick-ass book with a kick-ass female character. What else can I ask for? I can’t wait to read second and the third book in this series.


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