I suppose I should dedicate a rather long post to this one, as it is an outrageous bestseller at the moment, and has come highly recommended to me by at least a dozen people. In fact, the copy I just read was given to me by someone who had an extra and insisted that I have it and read it. Which I promptly did.
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=Bibliograph07-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0307454541&fc1=F3EDED&IS2=1<1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=040404&f=ifrNearly everyone has had an experience in which they get excited about seeing/reading/listening to something that gazillions of people claim is amazing. As they make their way through it, however, their disappointment grows and grows, until they nearly hate the object to which they had so looked forward to experiencing. This phenomena I will term “The Overhype Effect” or TOE for short. TOE, for me, definitely applies to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. No, I don’t hate the book. In fact, let me just start by saying that it is very good. It is suspenseful and frightening, macabre and thrilling. The characters are great–especially, obviously, Lisbeth Salandar, who is The Girl with the tattoo.
It took literally forever to grab my interest. The first several chapters were so incredibly boring that the only reason I kept going was the fact that everyone who has made it through the book says it’s fantastic. And from about page 200 to the end, it was fantastic. Still, that’s a long time to finish the set-up and jump into the main plot. I got pretty frustrated with the waiting.
That said, the waiting was basically worth it. There were so many plot twists and turns–unexpected things just coming out of nowhere. It was everything a thriller/mystery should be. And there were several parts where I thought to myself, X-number of pages left? What can he possibly have left to say? He’s already blown my mind X-number of times!
I love that it is set in a real place but a place you don’t read or hear much about–Sweden. Many of the books I read are either set in some made up world, or in England, or New York and other big cities in the U.S. This, I feel, is overdone. I’m so tired of always reading or watching what goes on in NY, LA, or Chicago. Hello! There are other places in the States that deserve attention too! Same with London, Paris, and Rome. There are other European cities that are interesting. Which is why I found the setting of Sweden so alluring. It was a whole new set of names and cities that I had to navigate, and it made the read much more challenging than it would have been otherwise.
The characters’ relationships to each other were also fascinating. Blomkvist–the main character who is hired to solve a 40 year old mystery–has strange relationships with women, including one with Erika Berger, a married woman (who also happens to be his boss) whose husband has known about the affair since before he even married Erika. Then there’s Lisbeth Salander, a troubled young woman of 24, still assigned a guardian by the state due to psychological issues. She also happens to be a talented researcher with a gift for digging up more information about a person than that person can even recall themselves. She and Blomkvist team up to find out what happened to Harriet Vanger, a teenager who vanished in the 1960s. Along the way they discover some pretty messed up secrets, and also find a solution to their loneliness.
I suppose what ended up being the most disappointing to me was the slow start. Everything else was great, but by the time I got to the good part I was already mad at the book and determined to resent it. Still, I think it is worth slogging through all the incomprehensible business talk (unless, of course, you know/enjoy business, and then it’s not slogging at all, is it?) to get to the deeply disturbing yet heart-poundingly exciting thriller that lies in wait.