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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Listen up Drunch Bunch! ‘Cause I’m only gonna say this once. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the best book I’ve read all year. I know what you’re saying, “Jodi, it’s probably the only book you’ve read all year that didn’t reference a cartoon character.” Sadly, that’s not too far off the mark. But I counter that argument with the fact that I used to be quite a reader. And I used to have pretty discerning taste in what I chose to clutter up my mind. So based on the has been I once was, I say to you, “Get thee to a bookstore, and buy this book. Posthaste!”

What’s that? You want me to actually tell you something about it first? Fine. But I’m going to refer to you as “high maintenance” from this day forward.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first work of non-fiction from Swedish author, Stieg Larsson. Interesting backstory on the author…Larsson was the well-known editor in chief of Expo magazine (Sweden). He began writing this book, followed by the two others in what is now being called his Millenium Trilogy, as a form of entertainment for himself, a way to free his mind after a long day at the office. He never even tried to have them published until shortly before his death in 2004.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is ultimately a crime novel in the vein of Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and others — which Larsson openly acknowledged as influences. There is the same layering of characters, interweaving of backstory, and ultimately a shocking reveal (which honestly, I saw coming, but the book is so well-written, I didn’t even care). But the gritty edge Larsson adds to his characters is unique. He also does a good job of establishing place and setting — something I worried about when I started the novel, fearing that my complete lack of knowledge of anything Swedish would hamper my enjoyment of the story. This fear proved to be completely baseless, and I was off and running within the first few pages.

One of the primary attractions of the novel is the main female character, Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth’s almost superhuman ability to gather information, using means both fair and foul, is in direct contrast to her abysmal lack of social skills. In another interesting aside, Larsson claimed to have based Lisbeth on the beloved children’s book character, Pippi Longstocking, And the parallels are easy to see, coarse behavior, a distrust of adults, and a clear — if skewed — sense of justice.

Seeing how her personality evolves under the influence and encouragement of the male lead, Carl Mikael Blomkvist, would be entertainment enough. But coupling their chemistry with the decades old mystery that they are drawn together to solve makes for a book that is difficult to put down.

At a whopping 590 pages, this one may seem a little daunting. But I picked it up on a Tuesday and had finished it by Wednesday night — it’s that engrossing. Also, I fed the kids PBJ two nights running and let them skip their bath. But in the long run, is that really bad parenting? Don’t answer that, just head to your nearest bookseller and pick up your copy today.

If you live in the Vestavia Hills area of Birmingham, AL, why not make your bookseller of choice Milestone Books? Locally owned and operated, Linda is personally responsible for recommending this book to me. I believe my request was “something that won’t make me think too hard, but won’t actively suck out IQ points.” This book more than fit the bill, and I’m sure she has a wonderful recommendation waiting for you, too.

Posted in Books.

4 Responses

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  1. Bells says

    ok ok I’ll read it! 🙂 I’ve picked it up in shops several times, intrigued. I’ll get it!

  2. John says

    Outstading book. I must confess I listened to most of it on book on tape though. It was the unabridged version (helped with all the Swedish names). I hear the 2nd book has been released, “The Girl who plays with Fire”, I think? I always assumed Sweden to be a happy place, but not so sure anymore. Would hate to be a female there! Lisbeth is a real BADASS and Kale better w2atch his backside in the new book!

  3. jodi says

    Bells — I love that I have that kind of power even half a world away. I feel like Wonder Woman!

    John — I’m starting the second one NOW! Can’t wait to see what happens.

  4. John says

    Ordered the real book tonight. Third in the Mellenium trilogy, “The Girl Who Kicked a Hornet’s Nest”, comes out 5/2010.

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