The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

5 Sep

Observation #1: I have read all 3 books in the series, one following the other, which I will suggest is the only way to read this series.  They flow nicely together, and lead to an ultimate resolution that has run throughout the books.

Observation #2: These books are mystery-thrillers, that were obviously plotted out in one-go, at the outset, as the story seamlessly flows through the 3 books, and while each book works on its own, only the first could stand independent of the others.  Book 2 starts where Book 1 ends, and Book 3 starts where Book 2 ends, so in a way, they are all one story.

Observation #3: These are well written books, generally well translated from Swedish, that are easy to read.  There are, however, a few places where the events are graphic and may be disturbing to some.  Be warned.  These plot points are by and large necessary for the book’s plot, as well as the over-arching plot, and so can not be easily avoided (as they are referred to and referenced in the story), but may not be the most comfortable to read.  But these sequences are short, and are only a small bump in the overall story.

Observation #4: If you had to read only one of the 3 books, then the first book would be by far the best choice.  It has a complex and complicated plot, that works within the book itself with little left unresolved.  It is an interesting read, the characters are introduced and developed, and it has a finale that ties things together.   I felt it was a tight mystery-thriller, that was engaging, and not obvious in the solution.  The complexity made the story even more interesting, with some depth and flavor that only adds to your enjoyment of the book.  I very much enjoyed this book.

Observation #5: This is a very difficult book to write a review on.  As noted, the plot is complicated, so it is difficult to distill to a few simple sentences.  The characters are complex and not easily described.  The value of the book is in the read.  The journey through that plot, meeting the characters, in experiencing the events for the first time, as you move through 800+ pages of an extremely interesting and compelling story.  It should be classified as a mystery, but it is a lot more than that.  I have seen it referred to as a thriller (it is), as suspenseful (yes), as a scathing commentary on society (it is that, though perhaps more on Swedish society), as political (not sure it is that political), and as a well-written novel, in the classic sense of “novels” (that I can agree with).  My recommendation is to recognize all reviews will not be able to provide you with the necessary preparation for reading this first book, or any in the series; ultimately, you will have to have the faith just to jump right in and see for yourself.

Observation #6: Thus, it is my recommendation that this is the type of book you need to read for yourself, and decide for yourself, whether you like it or not.  Many have read it and enjoyed it.  I was not sure I would, as I seldom enjoy what “the masses” enjoy, when it comes to books.  But I was pleasantly surprised with this book, and the series, as I found it enjoyable and quite good.  So, in this case, “the masses” were right.  But let your own opinion be your own judge.  I can see how this book may not be for everyone.  And if you don’t enjoy mystery thrillers, then this may not be for you.  My suggestions is give the book a try.  Commit to reading the first third of the book, at least, to see if it has roped you into its compelling story, or has left you in the classic Swedish cold.

Observation #7: If you enjoy the first book, then Books 2 and 3 should also be read.  But be prepared for disappointment, as the series ends after Book 3, as the author died after completing the third book.  There will likely not be more in the series*, which is a great disappointment, but this finality makes this series truly classic.  Some stories are meant to end at a certain point, no matter how much we may wish for it to continue; but they do end, as does this series, with the shutting of the door on the reader, barring us from spending more time with these wonderful, compelling characters, leaving us with the promising, yet frustrating final line in the third book: “She opened the door wide and let him into her life again.”    The door closes on the reader as it opens on the lives of the characters.   Be warned, you will likely be left wanting for more.


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