The unreliable narration (multiple layers thick) is a bit much at times--stop talking about all the lying you're doing and just get to the point, NickThe unreliable narration (multiple layers thick) is a bit much at times--stop talking about all the lying you're doing and just get to the point, Nick--but it makes for an interesting layer cake of a story. I enjoyed teasing out the truth of what was happening in the marriage and in the disappearance through the filtered lenses of Nick and Amy's narration.
The one (nitpicky?) thing that consistently bugged me throughout, though, is [SPOILERS AHEAD]
the diary. If Amy were really to have constructed this multi-year diary of her life with Nick over the course of the past year as part of the plot, forensic ink dating could've proved that. Yes, there are ways to trick that analysis, but it wasn't addressed as a possibility.
But anyway, the twist was fun, as were the various plot maneuvers as Amy has to think on her feet. I didn't always buy them, but they were entertaining. The ending was satisfyingly twisted. One does wonder, though, how long we're meant to believe that Amy was laying traps for Nick, and how many concurrent plots she had working at once, given the resolution to the story. Though, in fairness, I don't believe that Amy would have gone through with the suicide aspect of her plan. Not that I think she is incapable of that level of self-harm in pursuit of revenge, but because she enjoys watching the suffering she doles out too much.
Ben Affleck is going to be awful in the movie adaptation.
Probably more a 3.5, but I'll round up to counteract the people whose only criticism seems to be "too much profanity" or "the characters were yucky".
(There's not even that much profanity, really. Not if you're in the habit of watching premium cable, or have ever read a Stephen King novel.)...more
The mystery itself was pretty solid, with good pacing and an interesting, if predictable, villain. The writing was largely good, albeit a little preteThe mystery itself was pretty solid, with good pacing and an interesting, if predictable, villain. The writing was largely good, albeit a little pretentious here and there, and it's peppered with too-cute-by-half pop culture references that are already sounding dated. Also, I've never cared for narrators that directly address the reader. Nor do I have a lot of patience for the kinds of people--or characters, in this case--who willfully fuck up the best thing in their lives and then bitch about it. A lot. Readers, ye be warned: the narrator/protagonist is a douchebag.
There was a particularly annoying narrative moment that I can't find right now, where the narrator--talking about the villain--says to the reader, "You believed [villain], too." Man, don't tell me what I believed. I saw through that psycho practically the moment s/he (no spoilers here!) walked onto the page. That alone didn't make getting to the big reveal any less entertaining. It just bothers me that French is effectively bragging about how effective she is at throwing out red herrings and keeping you guessing when, honestly, she's not terribly effective at all.
And no, you never find out the big secret of the disappearance in the '80s. Which is, frankly, bullshit. The narrator says as much in the beginning, though it's easy to overlook during all the pompous set-up. I get the playing-with-conventions angle, and I get the old-unsolved-mystery-as-character-development angle, but mostly it just felt disappointing and empty. As if French couldn't come up with an explanation for that murder interesting enough to write down. The book moves fastest when it looks like you're actually making headway into solving that old mystery, which is so much more interesting than the fairly prosaic one that forms the central plot, and then all that build up leads nowhere.
Disappointing. Frustrating. Occasionally condescending. The more I think about this book, the less I like it....more
I should really hack off another star for taking 200+ pages to get going. But then, the middle was awfully good. I can't figure out why I like these bI should really hack off another star for taking 200+ pages to get going. But then, the middle was awfully good. I can't figure out why I like these books so much, when Larsson is, frankly, not much of a writer, narrative-wise. He spends a ton of time telling you things that don't matter in bland, sometimes stilted language that I don't think I can reasonably blame on the translator. And Mikael Blomkvist is, after all, no better than an authorial fantasy. Crusading liberal journalist who's irresistible to women, despite his age and paunch? Suuuure, Stieg. Sure.
And yet. There it is. They're really addictive books. There's a strange side plot involving Erika Berger that has nothing to do with anything, except possibly providing an unexpected bit of character development for Lisbeth, who--due to her condition at the end of the last book--is given far too little to do in the beginning, which may be why it drags at first. And then it gets better. And then it's over. Alas....more
The first time I read this book, it was because my parents threw it at me after a minor argument about Richard III's guilt. I was convinced of it, havThe first time I read this book, it was because my parents threw it at me after a minor argument about Richard III's guilt. I was convinced of it, having been told my whole life from every history book, class, or television show that mentioned it that Richard III usurped the throne and had his nephews murdered. (And possibly his brothers, as Shakespeare would have it.)
I devoured this book in a day, back then, even though there is nothing like action in it, and no fully sketched characters. (I gather Grant is better fleshed out in other novels.) The entire mystery is constructed, laid out, and solved through long stretches of dialogue and characters quoting historical sources. Some of the interest, for me, lay in being caught up in the characters' excitement. I love listening to my smartest friends talk excitedly about something that catches their interest, and the story here works similarly.
A reread several years later shows how much I'd forgotten of Josephine Tey's lovely way with words. I'd also not noticed some of the weaknesses in the arguments her characters make. Their case is still very convincing, and I remain firmly in Richard's camp, but there are flaws here and there. It is clear that Grant becomes convinced of the rightness of his case very early on and while he makes some token gestures towards thinking about other possibilities, they don't last.
Still, it's a wonderful book if you're interested in that branch of history. The dialogue may not always sound authentic, but it keeps things moving. And if it keeps people thinking about the way history gets written, so much the better....more
As if I needed another reason to hate Bill Compton. Oy.
I keep going back and forth between 1 star and 2 for this book. Part of that is undoubtedly becAs if I needed another reason to hate Bill Compton. Oy.
I keep going back and forth between 1 star and 2 for this book. Part of that is undoubtedly because I'm annoyed at the unnecessary confusion Harris caused by writing important events within the main continuity of the series into short stories that take place before this novel. (That's bush league, Harris. For shame.) Part of it is probably because my taste is running to non-fiction lately. And part of it is because the plot was wafer-thin.
On the plus side, Quinn seems to be somewhat less condescending than her previous love interests. I'm sure his most jackassy qualities are yet to be revealed....more
I was very tempted to throw this book an extra star solely for Eric's unfathomable awesomeness. Well... and because the quality of the writing this boI was very tempted to throw this book an extra star solely for Eric's unfathomable awesomeness. Well... and because the quality of the writing this book is so dramatically improved from Harris's first effort. But mostly Eric. Because, seriously? Awesome. Around page 280something I started fangirling him so hard that he could spend the entirety of the next book prancing about in pigtails and I won't care because it will not diminish his awesome.