Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

I started out loving this book. And then I disliked it. And then I hated it. The last fifty pages were dreadful. In the end, I honestly think the book was a lot of hype.

First of all, the mystery of Harriet's disappearance wasn't that hard to figure out. I knew what had happened to her from the very beginning. And I'm not good at solving mysteries. It's a fact that I have never won a game of Clue in my life. So the mystery of what happened to Harriet was pretty weak.

The mystery of the serial killer they end up solving because they were investigating the disappearance of Harriet was pretty awesome though. I loved that part of the book. I happen to be fascinated by serial killers. So I'm making a mental note...well written only get mystery novels about serial killers. (And hopefully unlike this novel, there isn't a dreadfully boring frame story about taking out a crooked businessman. More on that later.)

One of my complaints is that it was far too easy for Lisbeth to get information. I understand she's one of the best hackers in the country but is there ever any information that she can't get? It was also never explained how she was able to come up with extremely personal information. For example, did Mikael email about the many women he has slept with a full decade before the internet was invented? Lisbeth is a socially backwards and unapprochable person, so certainly she didn't go around interviewing people about who she was investigating. I just find it seriously unbelievable that she could dig up all the personal information simply by hacking.

I did appreciate the fact that it wasn't her that finally made sense of the clues and was Mikael who was hired to solve the mystery. I honestly thought Lisbeth would end up solving the mystery instead.

The character of Lisbeth is absolutely fascinating. I would to love to read a book about her that just focuses on her life story that isn't a mystery. Those are the kinds of books that I prefer to read. I may attempt to read the sequels simply for that storyline.

One thing that I thought was completely unbelievable was that the serial killer, who had gone to extensive lengths to hide all evidence of any of his crimes for decades, carelessly left some of his tools and some blood in a place where other people could have had a key. I suppose over a period of decades he would be bound to slip up eventually but this slip was just completely unrealistic and unbelievably convenient.

So the mystery of Harriet was solved and the mystery of the serial killer was solved, but the author decided to spend the last 50 pages telling how Mikael saves his magazine, takes down his arch nemesis (the crooked businessman), and regains his credibility as a journalist. Who freaking cares!? I have to be honest. I skimmed the last 50 pages because I was bored out of my mind.

Another thing I didn't like about the book was how Mikael had no shame that he was having an affair with a married woman. Is this not morally reprehensible in Sweden? Is it normal to just tell a person you're meeting for the first time that you keep a married woman as an occasional lover?

Speaking of morally reprehensible, the decision that the family makes after solving the mysteries and what to do with the information about the serial killings is questionable to say the least. I can imagine that some people in book clubs and the internet have gotten into some serious arguments about whether or not what they did was acceptable.

The entire theme of the book seems to be about what is morally acceptable and what isn't. Is it morally acceptable to know about a serial killer but not share that information with the public? Is it morally acceptable to break the law to get information about a businessman that is breaking the law? Is it morally acceptable to continue a book for another 50 incredibly boring pages after the mystery has been solved?

My final complaint is about the incredibly weak climax. They had finally tracked down the serial killer and there is a faceoff between the killer and the team of Mikael and Lisbeth. Now most thrillers have some sort of epic battle. Maybe I have been spoiled by over the top fight scenes in Hollywood thillers but the climax in this book was so underwhelming. Not to mention that Mikael gets captured in the first place because like a dumbass he knocks on the serial killer's door to confront him. After the killer tried to hunt him down and shoot him! WTF? How stupid can you get?

Overall I hated this book more than I loved it. My rating Photobucket

This might be one instance when the movie might actually be better. (I'll post that part of the review at a later date.)

Get Steampunked! 2012 Reading Challenge

I know, I know. Another challenge!? But I've been learning about this whole steampunk thing and I'm discovering it's something really, really cool. The clothes, the jewelry, the music, the art, the gadgets, and of course the literature, which I will focus on here. (All of the other sweet steampunk stuff I find you can view at my Tumblr.) I'm new to the genre so I think I'll stick with the Geared level (5 books).

The challenge is hosted by Bookish Ardour. Here's more info:

Here we are again with Get Steampunked!, the second year running and hopefully it will be just as good a year as last! There are some differences this time, thanks to a new year, new place, and some experience. Have a read below, if you have any questions ask away, and the most important part of it is to have fun.

What Is Steampunk?

If you’re not sure what Steampunk is think of stories that are Victoriana in style, but futuristic as well with steam powered gadgets and machines made out of the spare parts around you. Zephyrs, blimps, and steam trains are some of the vehicles you’d see, ladies and gents in Victoriana dress. Or the other extreme where it’s the industrial side of Steampunk, the dirty almost cyber side of it.

Check out these websites for a better idea – Steampunk Workshop, Steampunk Lab, Steampunk Emporium, Aether Emporium, and SteamPunk Magazine.

For ideas of what to read we have a list of 15 books to get you started or for inspiration.

The Deets
  • Running Dates: 1st of January – 31st of December 2012
  • When Can I Sign Up: All the way up to the last two weeks of December!
  • Crossover Genres: Gaslight Fantasy (an example is His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman)
  • Mr Linky: To use the Mr Linky you’ll need to click on the graphic then enter your link. These will be updated and posted into this page every couple of weeks or so.
  • Further Details: Crossover challenges are fine, you can change levels at any time, this is eBook, short story, and graphic novel friendly, and you don’t need a blog to join in (read further for details).
The How To
  1. Choose Your Level: These are listed further down and you can change levels at any time.
  2. Grab The Badge: Place it somewhere on your blog, profile, or in a signature where possible and link back (main page or this page, it’s up to you).
  3. Sign Up Post: Create a post on your blog, in a group, or on a forum (only if allowed) to let others see what you’re aiming for (a predefined list of books is optional).
  4. Link Up: Grab the direct URL to your sign up post, not your blog, click the Mr Linky graphic and enter your link!
  5. Blogless? Don’t worry, you can sign up with your social network profile (YouTube, Twitter, GoodReads, Shelfari included), just make sure you link to your review list, shelf, tweet, or category. If you don’t have any of those feel free to comment!
  1. Your Reviews: Reviewing is optional! But if you do review we’d love for you to share them by submitting them on the Review Page.
  2. Finished: When you’re done it’s completion post time and you can share these on the Completion Post page!
Challenge Levels
  1. Geared – Choose 5 books to read
  2. Cogged – Choose 15 books to read
  3. Goggle Mad – Choose 30 books to read
  4. Victorian Lord/Lady – Choose 50 books to read
  5. Inventor – Choose 75 books to read
  6. Zephyr Pilot – Choose 76-135 books to read
  7. Steampunked! – Choose 136-200 books to read
Extra Challenges

If you feel like that extra kick to your reading challenges here’s several you can choose from.

  • World: Choose a country as your theme, reading only books from that country or where it’s the setting. For how high you go you can choose more than one country;
    • Level Geared and Cogged: Choose one country
    • Level Goggle Mad and Victorian Lord/Lady: Choose two countries
    • Level Inventor to end of Zephyr Pilot: Choose three countries
    • Level Steampunked!: Choose four countries.
  • Gender Battle: Read books only by female or male authors. Another alternative is to read equal amounts of both.