Author’s Note: This is not a book review in the typical sense. I feel they include spoilers. This doesn’t. This is more of my reaction to the books and my attempt to get you to read them if you have not already. I won’t be overly specific with scenes and situations because if you know, you know.
If you haven’t picked up “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,” what are you waiting for? It’s on paperback so you don’t even have that excuse. You’ll have no trouble finding a copy at your local bookstore because it’ll likely be at the top of the store’s Fiction Bestseller list. Yes, still. It was first published in the U.S. two years ago.
When I finally bought this much talked about book last month I was thinking “she’s got a dragon tattoo, so what?” But I’m so glad I did. There are books that make me curse our weak bodies and their need for sleep – this is one of them. I drank cups and cups of coffee and ate a loaf of bread as toast while I read Larsson’s day by day breakdown of events. Someone (here possibly?) said she loved the little details and I too loved reading the exact time our protagonist awoke, exactly what she wore and the exact model of MacBook with which features she purchased. I wonder if the date format or organizing the literature and the small details isn’t something characteristic of Nordic writers. Granted I’ve only read Larsson’s trilogy and am halfway through “Let the Right One In,” but I wonder is this the literature extension of the IKEA nation?
If you haven’t read the series yet, my description of Larsson’s details might turn you off or at least confuse you. Don’t let it! Even when the scene was quiet and filled with minutia, I devoured his words knowing that every delicious detail might be important later and at least was showing the reader more about the character. I don’t think that the details dragged or dulled the reading.
I had a high school English teacher who shared with us her rule when trying out new books and authors; get through the first 100 pages and then formulate your opinion about it. If you’re not intrigued, then maybe it’s not going to be fun for you. Typically I’ve found this to be true. The start of a new book can seem awkward and odd for me, whether it’s because I haven’t read books in a while or because I’m not used the author’s style. However, I think when you are starting a book series, like this Stieg Larsson trilogy, you may have to extend the trial period a few more pages.
I will admit to feeling impatient when I first began reading “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” I guess I expected to have the two characters named on the summary be in the same high action scene from the start. It does make sense that you’d have to spend some time learning about who Blomkvist is on one track, while you learn a little about Salander and how she operates on another. I can understand if you end up feeling impatient about the separate tracks at first. But when you get to the point where these two tracks converge, it’s like “oh yea, here we go,” and that’s when you should really start drinking black coffee because you won’t be able to slow down once Larsson’s wicked ride begins.
“The Girl Who Played With Fire,” Book II of the series, was more of what I suppose I was selfishly expecting from the start. It starts with a strange and vague scene with creepy doctor and a young girl strapped to a bed who’s thinking about vengeance through fire. Since Larsson already introduced the main players to us, it’s all about the sticky and intriguing storyline that he’s written for us. Sure there are some new people, there are always new people, but it doesn’t slow the story down.
I loved learning more about Lisbeth Salander, how she became so kick-ass and why she is wary of people, especially those in uniform. I was her fan in the first book, but felt like I knew her so much better in the second book. There were a lot of “OMG!” moments for me in the second book. I liked them. I barely spoke to people and ignored phone calls while I read “The Girl Who Played With Fire.” I drank lots more coffee and ate toast just about every time one of the fictional Swedes turned the coffee machine on or munched on toast.
This eating habit continued when I read, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest” however I did force myself to be more social. I was eager to finish the story, yet depressed that it was the last installment in the series and that Larsson couldn’t write anymore. He wanted to publish some books, make some money and retire, but as soon as he turned in his manuscripts he died of a sudden heart attack. How’s that for irony? I can’t remember how many times I flipped to the back of the book jacket to read the author’s brief bio. I’m still really bummed about it and for him.
However, I am happy that I waited until this summer to allow Stieg Larsson to suck me into his internationally bestselling story because I didn’t have to suffer in anticipation for the next part of the series to be published. I bought “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” one week and then about one week later returned for “The Girl Who Played With Fire” and had to wait a whole weekend for “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest” be released here in late May 2010. So far, the only book series whose next installment would have me suffering happily is J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Had I started reading “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” when it first came out, the Larsson books might have gotten me suffering happily as well.