The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

I’ve been trying to get The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on audiobook from our library for ages.  It is extremely popular but my patience finally paid off a couple of weeks ago when I was able to check out a copy.  I had heard nothing but good things about it and the story quickly captured my attention.  Unfortunately, this book has some problems…

Was it a fast-paced book perfect for listening to on a long trip?  Kinda.  It was exciting. Not as fast-paced as something like a Reacher book.

Were the characters interesting?  Very.  The most compelling part of the book was the two main characters.  Believable and unique.

What about the setting?  Great.  It was wonderful to have it set in a location that you don’t read about much.  Added a whole other layer of interest.

What’s the problem?  Waaay too much casual sex and graphic depictions of rape.  I didn’t understand why a perfectly good story had to be completely ruined by that crap.  If it was that central to the story it could have certainly been hinted at like the murder in an Agatha Christie novel.  The author went overboard and he did it on multiple occasions.

It was a very memorable and well-written book but I couldn’t recommend it to anyone.

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5 thoughts on “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

  1. I recently read and reviewed this book on my blog. I found the graphic descriptions of rape on a few instances very upsetting and almost quit reading the book. However, I can see how the author found it necessary to show how awful these occurrences are, so that we can better understand some of the characters and parts of the plot (sorry for being vague, trying not to put in any spoilers). I really, really, did not like these parts, so I agree with you on that, but I do think the author balanced it out with some lighter scenes and tried to keep this to a minimum. I haven’t read the next books in the series yet though, and I’ve heard there are very intense scenes in that as well.

    1. I vacillated between your point of view and the one I eventually settled on. Could the story have been told without this plot device? I think so. I’ve had several days to think about it and it just seems to be sensationalism.

      The other thing that leads me to believe this is a description of the second book. It starts off with “Mikael Blomkvist, crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation.” It could be that the author really wants to deal with this subject matter for some reason other than superficial titillation but my gut tells me no.

  2. i remember that i i liked it but it took me awhile to get into it – maybe a 100 pages – and i never read any of the others.

  3. I don’t know how faithful/complete the audio books are, but it was the same feeling I had when I read the print version- enough I don’t care to read the others. Part of it is a European view of sexuality, and I kept telling myself to not be provincial when I was reading. There also seemed to be occasional translation issues in my head that made me feel like it wasn’t originally written in English. But in the end, I sided with Jason and that there was just too much sensationalism to it. Like the difference between reading “People” and a tabloid. Both cover the same topics… but attempt to appeal to different audiences and appetites. And, truth be told, I wasn’t a fan of the characters, either. Mostly because of the way they dealt with, and ‘accepted,’ that sort of sensationalized environment as normal.

  4. I pretty much agree. I thought the story was slow in places, but I think the sex and rape were necessary to allow the reader to pick a moral ground to stand on vis. Mikael’s or Lisbeth’s own stance. IOW, you had to know what all they were reacting to before earning the right to decide if you liked Lisbeth’s pitilessness or MIkael’s reluctant understanding.

    Necessary, but certainly not enjoyable in the moment. They did, however, make Lisbeth’s vengeance all the more satisfying.

    Anybody seen the Swedish film versions?

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