The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There are many things that Stieg Larsson does well in this book. One is handling a massive plot, with all kinds of tangents and tributaries, and never becoming overly encumbered by any of it. I never once felt like he was doing something because it was required to advance the story or taking me too far away from the central conflict. This is rather surprising when you consider how didactic his writing style can be. There is a scene in the book where Lisbeth Salander, his altogether unique semi-private investigator, prepares to send an e-mail, and he details the make of her computer, the programs she uses, and just about every other technical element that goes into this action. It makes sense for Lisbeth Salander, though, the way it made sense for the scientific specificity Ian McEwan used in Enduring Love, but oh what a difference it makes when you like the character.
The central mystery is fairly intriguing, with enough twists and turns and red herrings to warrant one's interest, but the character of Salander is the real attraction of the book. She is one of the stranger protagonists you'll find, She's cold, asocial, and morally ambiguous. Her whole persona is "stay the fuck away from me," and yet you somehow adore her at the end and even feel sorry for her. To be honest, I didn't expect her to survive the novel, for some reason the plot description I read once upon a time made me think she was going to be the murder victim, but I'm glad now to know that she's in the other books (not sure if she's the titular girl in all of them).
There is a movie version on the way, Cinema 21 has it booked for the coming months. It'll be interesting to see how they contain the plot...and how they contain the main character. That's going to be a tall order.
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