This month, I’m reading some modern classics with focuses on non-American, non-British cultures. I’ve thought about reading Dragon Tattoo for a while, but its rather tense and pretty sexy/violent/rapey premises have put me off. That’s why I’m only getting around to it now.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Author: Stieg Larsson
I usually like thrillers and mysteries, but this one has seemed pretty sordid. I usually use this as a bit more intro, but I’m going to go ahead and say here that yes, this book is sordid. There is a lot in here that those with prudish sensibilities or disdain for senseless violence wouldn’t like. Overall I suppose the book is ok, but dude. Like thirty million trigger warnings need to be on this.
I was surprised, in a good way, by this book. It still wasn’t and will never be a book I like, but it far exceeded expectations.
Usually, books with extensive and graphic scenes aren’t my favorite. And, to be honest, I think this book could have done with a lot less graphic violence and sex being on-screen; if you look at my review of The Alienist, you’ll see a book that talked about a lot of similar subject matter but didn’t have quite the same level of on-screen sex or violence. I found Dragon Tattoo’s unabashed violence, always against women, to be somewhat tasteless.
That being said, I was very pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t completely useless, and it didn’t feel like something written by a voyeuristic creep (like violence against women usually feels). I thought Larsson actually did a clever job critiquing the flaws of Swedish culture, especially how they hide behind liberalism and societal issues to give excuses to those who commit violence. I thought it was really intriguing how he wove Swedish Nazism in (and yes, I looked it up after – Swedish Nazism is a thing).
Overall, was it a great book? No. The mystery was solved with what I found to be pretty stupid clues. Blumqvist and Salander were fairly stereotypical characters, as was the villain. That being said, it was far better than I thought it would be, and I wouldn’t trash anyone for saying they liked it.
1/5 Discoball Snowcones
The overarching plotline of finding a murderer in a case 40 years cold was interesting. Salander and Blumqvist, the investigators, did work together well, and there was always palpable tension building.
That being said… zooming further in on old photographs shouldn’t be the way to solve a crime. Suddenly realizing that you put a wiretap on the badguy months ago shouldn’t be the way to catch a crook. The clues were too easily gathered, and it didn’t quite feel believable.
Lastly, the fact that Martin Vanger was this crazy serial rapist and killer who was highly active for 40 years and never got caught?! That was just… nuts. Even immigrants should have families, and someone should have started noticing that pretty women working for the Vanger corporation were going missing.
These plot holes were serious issues, but I also don’t think they were the point. I think the point was to critique Swedish capitalism, Nazism, and lack of serious progress towards women’s liberation and respect of women’s rights.
Next week I’m going to be reading Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Feel free to stop by as I ride my global train of books to Nigeria!