Thursday, May 23, 2013

[Review] Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Series

Author: Stieg Larsson

Publish Date: Sept. 16, 2009 by Knopf, 1531 pages

Rating: 3/5 as a whole series

Series: Millenium Trilogy 1-3

Genre: Mystery, Thriller

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 

3/5 Stars

This was an interesting read, but unfortunately it was drier than the Sahara Desert. If one can sweat it past the first half of the book, which is a whopping 300 to 400 some odd pages, though, the action really picks up.

The book itself begins with the hero, Mikael Blomkvist, being sued by a big shot businessman, Wennerstrom, for libel. For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is basically slander on paper. He is then approached by a mysterious Mr. Vanger. The job that Mr. Henrik Vanger asks him to do is solve the cold case of his niece, who has been dead for over 40 years. And what exactly is he willing to pay? Vanger will do just about anything to find out what happened to Harriet, including serve up Blomkvist’s nemesis Wennerstrom on a silver plate.

The other plotline in this particular book is that of the heroine, Lisbeth Salander, a spunky goth girl who is amazing with computers and has a photographic memory. Haunted by her own dark past, she decides to help Mikael with his quest to find the answers to Harriet’s death.
The whole first half is, as I said, pretty dry. Mainly it’s about Blomkvist getting the job, and getting settled in on Headestad, the island where the murder took place. It also shows Lisbeth as she deals with her impaired mother, the waning health of her former guardian and the chauvinistic, sadistic, Burjman who turns out to be more of a sick bastard than even Lisbeth could have guessed.

The second half is where it really begins to pick up however, as Blomkvist begins to tick off suspects one by one getting closer and closer to solving the mystery of who murdered Harriet Vanger. This is where Salander truly enters the story and her genius is brought to light as she helps Blomkvist with the case. As he gets closer and closer to solving the mystery; however, someone gets more and more desperate at hiding the past.

Overall, I would give the first half of this book a 2 and the second half of this book a 4 for an average total score of 3. If the beginning were a lot more fast-paced, or let’s face it, a lot shorter, this book would be a lot more interesting. The sequels - The Girl who Played with Fire and The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest - may be longer, but move more quickly and wrap the entire series up in a nice neat bow.

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larson

4/5 Stars

Picking up a couple of years after The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo left off, we start with our heroine Lisbeth Salander living large after her “rewards” from helping to solve the Harriet Vanger case. Now the owner of a multimillion kronor corporation that technically does not exist, Salander is free to go pretty much anywhere she wants. 

That is, until she is charged for triple homicide. One of the victims was the low-down, dirty, good-for-nothing pervert Nils Burjman, Lisbeth’s sorry excuse for a replacement guardian from the first book. (Note: Salander was previously considered an adult ward of the state after she was deemed mentally incompetent for earlier behavior. Burjman had total control of her money and made the decisions. Kind of like Brittany Spears after she had her meltdown.) The other two victims were Dag Svensson and Mia Johansson close friends of none other than the one and only, Mikael Blomkvist.

Another mystery, this book deals with who killed Blomkvist’s friends and Burjman, along with who is the mysterious Zalachenko, and his faithful sidekick Ronald Neidermann and why Lisbeth Salander mixed into the middle of all of this.

Salander finds herself on the run from the law for the three murders she didn't commit, and a couple of other powerful Swedish mobsters in charge of a fairly large sex trade ring. Blomkvist, being the ever loyal friend he is, decides to launch his own investigations into what happened in order to clear Salander’s name. Finally, the book itself concludes with the unveiling of what exactly happened to Salander when she was younger.

This book is much more fast-paced than its predecessor, and even though it is almost 900 pages long, it is hard to put down. Not only is there a lot more action, coupled with much more devious characters than Burjman, or the raving madman who is unveiled at the end of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo could ever be, finish the first book and you’ll find this hard to believe.
I would give this book a solid 4, due to its gripping storyline and the passion that one begins to feel for both Blomkvist and for Salander. Not only that, but after you finish this book, you have to go straight to The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. The cliffhanger demands it.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larson

4/5 Stars


This book has it all – giants who can’t feel pain, crazy stalkers who are almost as perverted as Burjman (see above), murder, sex rings, gang shootouts and one whopping government cover up.

Picking up moments where The Girl Who Played with Fire left off, Salander is in critical condition. A bullet in her head, it is hard to say whether or not she will pull through. Not only is she in the hospital, but she also is a prisoner, with guards outside her room at all times.

Where Salander is no longer being sought after for the murders of Svenson, she is still wanted for the assault of a biker gang leader, for questioning in the murder of Burjman and for the attempted murder of Zalachenko. 

Once again, Blomkvist rushes to the rescue in order to clear Salander’s name and blow the top off of one of the largest, oldest government conspiracies in Swedish history. And, once again, Salander seems to be in the middle of all of it.

This is the book where we finally find out what ‘all the evil’ is that Salander constantly refers to in both The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire. This is done through the introduction to one of the most evil characters yet to make an appearance, the devious Dr. Peter Teleborian.

I would rank this book a solid 4 as well. This is due to all the action that quickly moves the story line along. The only reason this book did not get a 5 is because there were way too many plots to keep track of. Where all of these plots are extremely interesting and great page turners, it is hard to keep track of who does what, when and how is it relevant to the overall story arc.

As for the whole series of books, I would give it a 3. With the last half of the first book, as well as the other two being so interesting, it is hard to get past how large these books are. This normally does not bother me, as I read such long books as The Stand and IT by Stephen King both of which are over 1000 pages, but these particular books are much drier than they need to be. 

Props for Stieg Larson for being extremely detailed and thinking of every little plot point, but he seems to drag on in plot points that are unnecessary to the overlying story.

If you enjoy mystery mixed with some pretty intense action and a kickass spunky gothic girl, this is the book series for you. But if you like faster-paced books that are quicker reads, probably want to steer clear, if anything, at least take a break in between each one. Trust me, I read all three in a row and it took me almost 3 and a half months, an unheard of amount of time for me to finish a book series.

Note from us here at Book Nerd Paradise: Due to the graphic nature of this series, we recommend these books for mature audiences only. 

Review by M.J.D.
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