|Purchase: Amazon | Chapters|
Length: 841 pages
Genre: Mystery, Series (Millennium Trilogy- Book #1)
Start Date: Nov. 15, 2010
Finished Date: Dec. 13, 2010 (29 days)
Where Found: Chapters-Indigo
Why Read: It's pretty hard to avoid the neon-coloured covers at the bookstores :)
Summary: A journalist awaiting imprisonment for libel is hired by an elderly corporate tycoon determined to discover the truth about his niece's strange disappearance over 40 years ago, soon working with a punkish young securities phenom with a serious vendetta.
It is nearly impossible to create a groundbreaking book within an overabundant genre such as the mystery/suspense thriller. While I wouldn't label The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo that way, what the late Stieg Larsson has done is take an overly familiar kind of tale and injected it with a distinctly European flavour that leaves you with a sharper taste than the typical John Grisham or James Patterson yarn.
This taste is composed of a deliberately cold mood, through the backdrop of a bitterly frigid Swedish winter, the aging members of the Vanger family with old money, and the polarizing (if you'll pardon the pun) attitudes towards Mikael from the snivelling family history naysayers to the immediate bedfellows. Also, Larsson's inability to filter what some interpret as pointlessly excessive detail, such as food they eat, geographic placenames we can't pronounce let alone recognize, and complex sociopolitical dramas that only represent a fraction of the plot, certainly adds bulk to an already heavy-handed plot.
Mikael Blomkvist may be the centre of the mysterious Vanger family saga, but Lisbeth Salander is the hero and is fantastically rendered, turning all stereotypes of her external appearance on their heads. She is the most complex, fascinating character I've read about in recent years, and her terrifying ordeals make her a stronger, more vigilant, and complicated human being that we are made to realize exists somewhere through the scary but true statistics printed on each chapter page.
I watched the Swedish movie version which I had previously taped but couldn't watch until I had finished the novel or it would spoil the ending. It was a terrific adaptation with a brilliant "debut" (at least to international audiences outside of Sweden) by Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth and was filmed in a photographic style with chilling graphic realism. An American-made version to be directed by David Fincher is in development. As for the sequels, I am definitely hooked and want to read the next two books of the Millennium series this year. I am determined to squeeze them in!
Rank: (A)- Excellent, Highly Recommended