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.)

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