Why I caved (the long version):
I am one of the remaining stragglers when it comes to this book. It seems like everyone and their dog has read it already. I have resisted and resisted and resisted. My sister read this last November. She had her face stuck in this book all during Thanksgiving break. She has been telling me to read it ever since. Almost everyone in my book club has read and recommended it. Regardless, this book did not appeal to me. At. All. Every time I thought about reading this my whole being said an emphatic NO.
I have mentioned before that one of my best friends and I have a two person book club going on. Or you could call it a read-a-long. Basically we take turns picking out books to read together. (We have been doing this for two years now.) This time it was her turn. She chose the Millennium series. As in-let’s read the whole series together. That is the beauty of book clubs. They get you to read books you wouldn’t otherwise touch with a ten foot pole, yes?
This was decided in late June, early July (after I dragged my feet reading Pride and Prejudice). I bought the book on the eighteenth of July at the DFW airport. A few days later I read the prologue. Decided that it was interesting enough. However, instead of following through, I chose that as the perfect moment to cave on Vampire Academy. (Another series my sister was bugging me about.)
It wasn’t until I was bound for a fourteen hour flight that I finally gave in. Mind you, A., had already polished off the series and here I was giving one last show of resistance. It was the only physical book I brought with me besides the travel guide. After reading all the magazines available I finally, finally opened up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
And twenty pages in, I was hooked.
For the remaining stragglers who don’t know what the story is about (the short version):
Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist hired by Henry Vanger to solve an old family mystery of the disappearance/murder of his niece forty years ago. Lisbeth is a hacker who has been hired by Henry Vanger’s lawyer to investigate Mikael. Together their paths eventually collide, and they team up to figure out what really happened to Harriet Vanger all those years ago. In the process they dig up more secrets than they bargained for, and their lives may be in danger because of it.
Obviously the story is more complicated than that. It is nearly six hundred pages long, so it better be. Everyone I know who has read it thought it started off slow. I’m not gonna lie. This was a big part of the deterrent for me. I didn’t want to have to work that hard to get into a story. What if I didn’t like it? Frankly, I didn’t want to waste my time. However, I didn’t find the beginning slow at all. It was a slow build, the way a fire kindles and takes it time becoming a full-on blaze.
I appreciated the intricacy of the story. Others could perhaps find it convoluted. I liked learning the background of the different characters. The world of Millennium absolutely came alive for me. I am completely ignorant of Sweden’s geography, weather, and laws, not to mention Swedish culture so that was an added bonus for me, getting a glimpse inside another country in an intimate way.
The material is dark. There is some extreme violence. However, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a violent novel. There are only a few instances of instances of true violence, but the secrets that Mikael and Lisbeth uncover are very disturbing and violent in nature.
I loved the character of Lisbeth. She is not your usual protagonist. She is anti-social, gruff, but totally kickass. She is fiercely independent and can absolutely take care of herself. Mikael was also fascinating. I appreciated his reactions to Lisbeth. He was very accepting and didn’t give her the usual crap that other people did. I also really liked Lisbeth’s boss Dragon.
A short comparison to the movie:
After I read the book I promptly viewed it on Netflix. Again everyone I know who has read the book has raved about the movie. I did like it. I think Noomi Rapace was nearly perfect as Lisbeth. I think the changes that were made were necessary as the book is so long. However, I felt like they made some changes to the character of Blomkvist that weren’t in line with the story. The way he related to Lisbeth in the movie was different than in the book. I felt that the movie sacrificed a bit of his character integrity for the sake of exposition.
I very much enjoy foreign films and appreciate how different the tonal quality is from American ones. I love listening to other languages. However, I think the book ruined the movie experience for me just a smidge. I think I am going to watch the next two movies first, then read the books. On a different note, I got such a kick out of noticing how certain Swedish words sounded exactly like the English caption, just a bit gruffer.
So I’m curious. How many of you have read this? What were your thoughts? Are there any stragglers continuing a show of resistance in the face of a book with a tremendous amount of hype surrounding it?