The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

June 27, 2011 at 12:00 am 1 comment

Maren Gyllenhammar Raaum's Cover for 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo'

Maren Gyllenhammar Raaum's Cover, the best and most appropriate one out there, in my opinion

I feel almost obligated to give Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a bad write-up. It seems too trendy to be enjoyed and too pulpy to be taken seriously.

And, truth be told, there were a lot of things I didn’t like about it. Namely, Larsson’s apparent confusion regarding the difference between realism and sensationalism posing as such, particularly when combined with his fixation on sexual crimes against women. Also, I did not appreciate the painfully autobiographical protagonist who all manner of women are falling over to sleep with for no apparent reason. Yes, he’s a nice guy, and intelligent, too, but hardly Bond. (Oh wait…) And to mention just two more gripes, there was also my own personal aversion to devoting my limited pleasure reading time to accounts of sexual violence and the book’s too-tidy use of hacking as the solution to pretty much all questions, problems, and mysteries.

That all said and despite my desire to uphold some kind of intellectual snobbery regarding this book, I cannot deny that Dragon Tattoo was entertaining. It was not terribly enjoyable nor did I much care for most of its parts, but the sum of those mediocre parts was surprisingly gripping. I tried to stop reading it at least four times (mainly because of its, in my opinion, unnecessary hyper-violence) and even read a Wikipedia synopsis in hopes that knowing the ending would eradicate my need to finish the book, all to no avail. (Although the latter tactic did make the rest of the reading more palpable.) And I must say I’m glad I finished it as the final two pages were probably the only part of the book I actually liked.

In the end, I think I’m just not a crime fiction fan and I probably shouldn’t have been seduced by the book’s hype. My problems with it are probably endemic to the genre—particularly my qualms about the violent nature of the narrative—and I think I’m better off avoiding the whole crime-y mess in the future. I wanted to read Dragon Tattoo for the same reasons I thought I should read Twilight: to be able to go into any discussion about the phenomenon well-informed, as unbiased as possible, and armed with my own experience with the book rather than merely citing hearsay and rumor. So mission accomplished on that front, but I can’t say I enjoyed this experience any more than I did Twilight.

So in terms of a recommendation, I would say that you shouldn’t read Dragon Tattoo unless you are already a fan of crime fiction (particularly this rather bleak Scandinavian off-shoot of the genre). Any other readings will end up as disappointing attempts to understand Larsson’s trendiness and his books’ insanely wide-spread appeal.



Entry filed under: Contemporary Fiction. Tags: , , .

A read books list? Go ahead: Judge away

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Kate  |  April 11, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    So far, I’m four hours into the audio recording and I wish I could reach into my CD player and strangle the author, screaming “GET ON WITH IT, ALREADY!” It’s taken an insanely long time just to get to Harriet’s disappearance — ostensibly the point of the story?!


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