807 of 845 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
I have just finished reading this book which was recommended to me by a friend. As someone who is not usually a crime fiction fan (I certainly never buy them), I was not very enthusiastic about it but had some curiousity because of the rave reviews it was getting in other areas also. I found the beginning of the book a bit tedious and was starting to think it was not...
Published on 28 Dec 2009 by Mrs. Jean Ross
41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent enough book
I was unsure about this, as I was keen to learn if the many millions of sales meant it was indeed a good book, or just lots of band-wagon jumping, followed by even more just seeing if it's worth the fuss (like me). So I asked a friend who had just finished reading it, who told me it was one of her favourite books and a must-read! So I bought it and saw for myself...
Published on 19 July 2010 by Peter O'Hanrahanrahan
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807 of 845 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,
I have just finished reading this book which was recommended to me by a friend. As someone who is not usually a crime fiction fan (I certainly never buy them), I was not very enthusiastic about it but had some curiousity because of the rave reviews it was getting in other areas also. I found the beginning of the book a bit tedious and was starting to think it was not for me, but, all of a sudden, it got a grip and I found that I was most reluctant to put it down! I have now had the satisfaction of finishing it this morning after a record reading time. I found the book most entertaining, evoking many differing emotions - suspense, disgust, intrigue, and some laughs also. The location being in Sweden was interesting and the translation certainly did not affect the impact of the storytelling. The two main characters were likeable and I grew fond of them and found myself caring about them. The author certainly can reach the reader and at the end, my main emotion was one of satisfaction. I certainly intend to the read his other two books.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.,
Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy has met with such phenomenal success that it's almost impossible to avoid them. The three titles - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire, and The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest seem to be omnipresent, with heads tucked into them everywhere I go. Larsson, a Swedish journalist, died shortly after he handed in the manuscripts for his three thrillers in 2004, so the heartless cynic might suspect an element of posthumous hype. I remember disappointedly discarding John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces halfway through, and wondering whether some of the eulogies piled on it were related to the author's suicide eleven years before publication and his mother's subsequent desperate attempts to find a publisher. But the praise seems well earned in Larsson's case - he's produced commercially accessible but well-written and informed thrillers which, unlike Dan Brown, will appeal to the more discerning reader as well as purveyors of pappy beach reads.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a convoluted thriller set in Sweden. The atypical heroine is a dysfunctional, wary female computer hacker called Lisbeth Salander. Skinny as a bedraggled cat, surly, pierced and tattooed, she looks more of a delinquent teenager than the whizz-kid she is. She freelances for a security company and specialises in carrying out detailed private investigations on individuals. Conventional laws are there to be flouted as far as Salander goes, but she does have a strong moral code in other ways, refusing to tolerate violence against women. Salander becomes involved when a journalist called Mikael Blomkvist is asked to investigate a disappearance of a young woman that occurred thirty six years previously. Those under investigation are the members of a venerable and powerful business family, the Vangers .
The novel involves a large cast of characters and much intrigue. This is a very twenty first century thriller with sophisticated technology as well as the traditional stalwarts such as murderous megalomaniacs, scheming relatives and corrupt financiers. Salander is undoubtedly the star. Silent, fiercely intelligent, private, possibly abused in the past, made poignant by family tragedy, yet far too ferocious to be pitied, she is a very modern day heroine. So adept is she at knocking back threats that at times the story has a feminist cartoonish fantasy feel about it: it's easy to imagine a gamine actress kickboxing her way through the action scenes, and a Hollywood adaptation can't be far off.
The translation from Swedish is occasionally stilted- 'And because the conversation had so much an echo of a schoolboy tone' (rather than 'such an'); 'But even as alcoholics are drawn to the state liquor store' (rather than 'just as'); 'Blomkvist regretted his decision before even he left for home' (rather than 'even before'); 'Harriet's disappearance was the reason why gradually I withdrew' (rather than 'I gradually'). But despite the sometimes stiff feel, the storyline hooks the reader in. The prose is simple and utalitarian, employed only to tell the story - this is not literary fiction in any way, so if you're after sumptuous or poetic language, look elsewhere. But it's always intelligent, and the reader is never taken for a fool: although there are implausibilities, they're not impossibilities, as in so many other thrillers.
My least favourite parts were the very few sections in which Larsson lectured the reader, such as the lengthy explanation of legal competence: 'Since 1989, the term 'legally incompetent' is no longer applied to adults. There are two levels of social welfare protection - trusteeship and guardianship....'
As soon as Larsson started teaching, in his own voice, rather than telling the story through his characters, I felt hectored. Maybe these parts would have been changed had Larsson not died; altered so that the information was provided by a character rather than the preachy voice of the author, though having characters provide complex explanations is also problematic.
Nevertheless, I was still riveted. The characters are credible and one gets the sense that they have pasts, which is so often not the case in action stories with their two-dimensional heros and villains. The characters here are fallible, with faults as well as hopes, desires and dreams. Salander is an enigma, but that makes the reader more likely to revisit her in the second of the trilogy. The writing is unflashy but consistently solid, and Larsson has dotted every i and crossed every t as far as his plot is concerned: many thrillers have storylines so thin they feel like mohair stretched over bones of glaring incredulity. This is a racy, exciting page-turner; undemanding intellectually but quality stuff despite its accessibility. I'll be back for more.
79 of 85 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stick with it,
My overall impression of `The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' is positive and I will remember a lot of the strong aspects of the writing, notably the unique characterisation and the Nordic backdrop described. Central to the plot are Kalle' Blomquist, a journalist convicted of libel who serves out his penance between jail and the isolated wilds of Norrland + Lisbeth Salander, an expert system hacker and all-round investigator. Blomquist is employed to investigate the unsolved disappearance of Harriet Vanger in the 1960's. At first he is not really interested but as Blomquist delves into the complex layers of the horrible Vanger dynasty he picks up clues that will ultimately lead to the truth, amid a Silence of the Lambs tale of horror. The social misfit Salander is the star of the book; a complex irrational character who joins up with Blomquist after originally being employed to investigate him. Together the expose the horrible truth and then set about taking down the corrupt businessman that Blomquist had supposedly libelled. It is a bleak tale with no clean cut heroes - Blomquist is clever but lacking in common sense and with awkward social skills in dealing with women. There is a struggle in reading the book where the narrative is over descriptive and long winded, particularly early on when adapting to the style. Sometimes you know what is coming but it takes five extra pages to get there through the extra unnecessary passages. Will have a break before reading the next book - The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium Trilogy)
I would advise persevering with the early chapters and wait for the hook the draws you into this harrowing tale.
641 of 702 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent tense thriller with a conscience,
Some incredible thrillers are coming from Scandinavian countries these days. Anyone who is a fan of the Kurt Wallander series of books by Henning Mankell will know what I mean. Now we have a new addition to the shelf, courtesy of deceased author, Stieg Larsson.
This is the first volume in the Millenium trilogy and after finishing this first book, I am very much looking forward to the next two volumes. Larssson died in 2004 soon after delivering the manuscripts for 3 crime novels to his publisher. It's a pity that this gifted author isn't around for a long time to come.
The tale is split between the shady secrets of a wealthy family and the murky dealings of a famous businessman. Mikael Blomkvist, a recently convicted journalist, is hired by Henrik Vanger to investigate the disappearance of his niece almost 40 years ago. Vanger promises Blomkvist the means to clear his good name as part of the payment and Blomkvist accepts.
The author manages to maintain an excellent pace throughout, but still delivers a strong social lesson while providing the thrills. It is an intelligent thriller with a conscience. Probably one of the best of its kind in recent years.
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Stieg Larsson,
This is a very enjoyable, if slightly flawed, start to the highly-publicised 'Millennium Trilogy'.
The book suffers, in my opinion, from a lack of editing and from a somewhat pedestrian translation. Both of these become apparent in the first 70-odd pages, in an often dull introduction that needs to be persevered with to enjoy the action to come.
'Kalle' Blomquist (an Astrid Lindgren character, one of many Swedish references awkwardly dealt with by the translation) is clearly a sexed-up version of Larsson himself; and is convicted of libel against a businessman which has something to do with an over-long account of industrial fraud in Eastern Europe. He eventually decamps to the frozen wastes of Norrland to investigate a decades-old disappearance.
He is eventually, inevitably, joined by Lisbeth Salander, an 'investigator' with severe social dysfunction (apart from when conning international businessmen and financiers).
There are plenty of 'first novel' type holes in the plot which surely a good editor should clear up. The opening chapter concerns a clue that is completely ignored until the very end, when the author remembered it and had to clear it up.
However these criticisms should not mask what, for 75% of the book, is a cracking good read. It becomes sort of Agatha Christie meets Val McDermid, a locked room mystery crossed with sadistic serial killer(s). As a frequent visitor to Norrland myself, the life of a small community is impeccably rendered, and it was a personal pleasure to recognise favourite towns like Umea and Skelleftea in the narrative.
The first 50 pages are a bit dull, the last 50 become a bit absurd, but in between you will find a fine 4-star thriller that saw me enjoyably through a week's tube journeys to work. Hopefully the author will grow into his characters, and I look forward to meeting them again in the two remaining books.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best Books I've ever read,
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This review is from: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Kindle Edition)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy)
This has been an amazing read. Unlike previous reviewers I did not find the early part of the book slow. It builds the environment for the story carefully and I really felt I knew the areas where the story took place. Someone commented that the small details like the type of coffee being drunk and the furniture from Ikea were unnecessary but I think they gave hints about the lifestyle of the people involved. I can't wait to read the other stories in this trilogy now. This has easily been one of the best books I've read in ages.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the girl with the dragon tattoo,
Althought the first few chapters of this book didn't look promising, after about chapter 3, Larsson's book got me hooked. I found myself caring about the main characters, especially that of Lisbeth Salander. The story and plot line was thrilling. Even if you are not a crim/ mystery fan, you should still read this spellbinding captivating book by Steig Larsson.
41 of 46 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A decent enough book,
I was unsure about this, as I was keen to learn if the many millions of sales meant it was indeed a good book, or just lots of band-wagon jumping, followed by even more just seeing if it's worth the fuss (like me). So I asked a friend who had just finished reading it, who told me it was one of her favourite books and a must-read! So I bought it and saw for myself.
I learned two things having taken that decision. Firstly, that sales figures are not directly proportional to quality (ok so I should have got that from the Da Vinci Code), and secondly, that my friend has pretty poor taste in books.
Perhaps that is a little harsh because, as you can see from the 3 star rating, it's not *that* bad. It's just not that great either. I'm just surprised anyone could think of this as one of their favourite books. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with it, save for some utterly pointless detail about the model and spec of a laptop, and totally unnecessary info on the great shareware the main character uses. It's just a little weak overall. For example some pretty far fetched story telling and pretty unbelievable "twists". The characterisation is decent, but far too many points are drilled home (yes, she's a tough girl despite being tiny, we get it!). The closed room mystery works until the reveal, when it just really doesn't add up given what we've already been told. And there are a few too many sections where you just feel a little bored. I've read that Larsson's widow didn't want it edited at all - she wanted it released exactly as he wrote it. Completely understandable, but a definite error.
In brief, if like me you find it impossible to resist making your own mind up about this book, the huge array of ratings will likely encourage rather than dissuade you against this, and certainly nothing I can say would do so. But if you do want my advice (as opposed to any given in the other 500+ reviews) I don't think it's really worth it. It will no doubt sound harsh, but if Larsson was alive, and if a billion other people hadn't already read it, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't either. I know I wouldn't have.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a first draft - didn't live up to the hype for me,
This review is from: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy) (Paperback)
This book was recommended by three separate friends who said they couldn't put it down and had read the whole trilogy one after another so my expectations were high.
I found it quite a tedious read in parts, too much mundane and unnecessary detail which did nothing to move the plot along (do I care what kind of sandwich the characters had or even that they were having a sandwich?) The translation was clumsy and pulled me out of my reading - particularly the dialogue.
I could see the bones of a good story although very reminiscent of Val McDermid who wrote one of the books read by the journalist character - another detail we didn't need. Those bones were buried beneath a "what I did on my holidays" style narrative where every detail is reported and given equal weight
It's such a pity that the author died before having chance to revise the book with a good editor - it could have been so much better; he was there with the plot and that's what I look for in a novel. I can forgive less than fabulous prose even in a published author but there's no excuse for a bad translation - that was just terrible! It seemed like the translator wasn't a native English speaker, or was just lazy and translated Swedish idiom directly into English which doesn't work.
3 stars because I appreciated the potential and enjoyed the "good" bits but, for me, the book needs to be edited down by about half to get rid of the bits that made me groan.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good story poorly written,
This is a good plot, a complicated mystery with several unexpected turns, an affecting romantic sub-plot between the two main characters, and some scary moments.
But it's written by a plodding nerd. The first half is deeply tedious, the second half is a bit better but all the way through we are given far too much detail about uninteresting brand names, leaden conversations, sad and irrelevant technical information about ordinary stuff (I really don't want to know what email software the heroine uses, or how many pixels her new computer has).
It also reinforces the description I once heard of Sweden as "Social Democratic Hell". The novel has a working definition of extreme behaviour as anything that might make a middle-class, middle-aged Swede uncomfortable. Add to that a world view that says the only thing really interesting aspect of life is who runs big companies and a supposedly radical magazine with the dreary title of "Millenium". It's not surprising that, when the author finally gets down to the really bad bits he goes for the nasty, violent sadism, anything less transparently evil would be beyond his literary skills.
The characters are plodding and their behaviour wooden, the central male character spends his life being nice and having his niceness rewarded by various of women wanting to have sex with him. It's like the worst bits of Frederick Forsyth without the interesting practical detail and joined-upness that makes some of Forsyth's writing bearable.
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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson