Book Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Last week, my wife and I had the rare opportunity to go to the movies. In the lost haze of time, before breeding, we used to go to the movies all the time. Nowadays it is a real undertaking, involving babysitting, meal prep, timing, and luck. Takes luck for there to be a decent movie to see.

Hot-Tub Time Machine was last weeks’ choice, and we regretted it. It is not The Hangover. And John Cusack is drifting into tiresome poserhood. Really mediocre.

There was one other movie we thought about, but we couldn’t make the timing work. A foreign film, which got incredible reviews: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

We couldn’t see the movie, but the reviews all mentioned it was based on a book. A book? I loooove books!

Barnes & Noble had it, I bought it, and devoured it in a couple days. Foolishly I settled for the trade paperback instead of the mass-market, which is much easier to carry. It weighs in at five-hundred-plus pages; it is pretty beefy.

It was awesome. Really, really good.

It takes place in Sweden, was written (originally) in Swedish, and is shot through with references to Swedish culture. The translation to English is superb, and after a few pages the use of Swedish geography, names and terms becomes natural.

You can read a decent plot summary on Wikipedia; it’s a blend of Crime/Thriller/Social Commentary that really appealed to me. Particularly, the two main characters were incredibly intriguing. The semi-disgraced journalist, hired to dig into a decades old murder/disappearance, is an interesting blend of world-weary experience and intellectual curiosity. He comes in contact with the title character, an anti-social computer hacker who is a ward of the state (and who probably has more than a touch of Asperger’s). Together they provide a strangely shaped portrait of effectiveness that rings true, even as you marvel at their combined oddity.

The culture of Sweden permeates the setting, and it fascinates a U.S. reader. So many subtle differences, so many things the same.

And it has the added benefit of being the first book of a trilogy! Yippee! I’ll wait until the third book is released, then by both of the remaining books together.

The book was so good, I am hesitant to see the movie. It can’t measure up.


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6 Comments on “Book Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”

  1. Etienne Neveu Says:

    Nice review, thanks!

    I watched the movie a year ago, and I really liked it. Strangely, it was released in may 2009 in France!

    > I’ll wait until the third book is released, then buy both of
    > the remaining books together.
    I thought they were *already* released? I saw the english paperback edition of the three books in “la FNAC” (a french store).

    I want to read the novels, but I’m waiting for the french paperback to come out, since I mostly read in the subway. I know, I could have bought the english paperback… But while I *love* to read english authors in english (even when a french translation is available), I think I’ll read this one in french, since the author is swedish anyway. Haven’t read a book in french for a long time! 🙂

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  3. it is a good idea to look for book reviews first before buying an expensive book ::

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