I've had the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sitting by the side of my bed gathering dust for about a year. I tried to read it three times, but never got past page 30. It was just too boring. But then the movie came out and it has Daniel Craig in it, which means I definitely have to watch it, which means that I definitely have to read the book first. (My son has OCD tendencies. Where oh where does he get the genetic code for that?)
The Dragon Tattoo starts off very slowly. When I was whining about the slow pace of the book, friends advised to keep going; things pick up after page 100. It did get better.
Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who was convicted of libeling a wealthy industrialist, is hired by another wealthy industrialist to solve a family mystery. He later joins forces with a highly damaged girl, Lisbeth Salander, who is a genius at digging up info on the Internet.
Stieg Larsson very successfully creates two complicated, likable characters. They are both raped. Lisbeth with an anal plug by a sadist case worker. Mikael by a corporation who humiliates him in the court room on national television. They are both outsiders who smoke a lot of cigarettes and sleep with the nearest body. In short, they are likable people.
As I stayed up until 1:30 on Christmas night finishing off the book, I got swept into the whole dark Swedish vibe of the book. The small villages on the edge of sea. Laconic neighbors eating herring and drinking coffee on IKEA stools. It's an austere landscape.
The plot was disturbing. It's all about sex-crazed Nazis. There's some very graphic, disturbing scenes of sexual violence. Despite his little notes about the horrors of violence against women, you get the feeling that Larsson is kinda into it. Yes, yes, sexual violence is a horrible thing. Now, let me write a three page description about a torture cell for prostitutes. I wonder how many of the readers of the book got off on those scenes.
The writing is so-so. It's a translation, so I don't know if I should blame Larsson or his translator.
I liked the book, despite the manipulation, and will probably pick up the second book at Barnes and Noble today. Now, it's time to book the babysitter, so I can see my boyfriend, Daniel Craig. (Though I heard that the movie is tanking. They might not even make the second film.)