I really liked this book, but it took me awhile to get into it. It's also a very L-O-N-G book, coming in at over 500 pages on a Kindle. I a...more3.5-4 stars
I really liked this book, but it took me awhile to get into it. It's also a very L-O-N-G book, coming in at over 500 pages on a Kindle. I appreciated the detail and the thoughtfulness that went into building this "world". And I also appreciated that the book remained firmly in the YA category. Lots of kissing and hugging, but no description of anything else; it might be implied a bit, but it's not described. And that's a good thing for its target audience.
Overall, the theme is tolerance for those different from you. A big YA theme, to be sure, but it's done well.
It does seem a bit odd to be narrated from the POV of a 16 year old boy, Ethan Wate, but it makes sense. There's only one break with his narration at the end of the book, and that's necessary.
The movie didn't come anywhere near to doing this story justice. I realize it's tough to turn a 500 page book into a 2+ hour movie and be completely faithful. But the movie-makers changed so many things... sad, really. A waste of many good actors.
Here's the difference in my rating: The story has great potential and all the elements of a truly frightful, mind-twisting ghost story. B...more2.5-3.5 stars
Here's the difference in my rating: The story has great potential and all the elements of a truly frightful, mind-twisting ghost story. But the story, itself, isn't much and yet it's drawn out as much as it can be through the 160+ pages.
The book starts several years ahead of the event, which is confusing. What has all of this to do with the Woman in Black and the actual story? Not until the telling of ghost stories begins, do we realize that this idyllic scene is to contrast with what is to come. There are hints of it in the back story that Arthur Kipps supplies for us, but scant hints. Nothing of substance. And that's what I find this entire book - nothing of substance.
When Kipps does actually tell us the story, it's in fits and starts - again, lots of background that doesn't really add much, IMO. An entire town that doesn't talk of this ghostly apparition? NO ONE will give Kipps the proper warning? No one gossips enough to provide any details? Kipps literally walks into and through this story without any real knowledge of what is happening or supposed to be happening to him. The terror is in the sounds and in his head, as the Woman in Black plays with him. But to what end? Why does she plague him now? Is it only because there is a new victim to plague with her evil? That question is never answered, and it's quite unsatisfactory.
The ending is not unexpected, given the information that we've already received from Mr. Kipps. But it is a bit shocking. And very unsatisfying, as again, we have to wonder WHY - why him? Why now? What grievance has the Woman in Black against Arthur Kipps that she came after him 2-3 years after the whole horrid events at Eel Marsh House?
I understand this is a successful play in London. And, of course, the movie is debuting in the U.S. in February. The movie, starring Daniel Radcliffe, looks terrifying. Perhaps the movie will be able to do what that book cannot?(less)
To say that the 3rd book in this trilogy is any less than the other two is far from the truth. The book is a (...moreWow - that's my first impression... Wow!
To say that the 3rd book in this trilogy is any less than the other two is far from the truth. The book is a (mostly) satisfying end to the story and drama that we've come to know -- about Lisbeth Salander and how she became the person she is, about her unconscionable loss of her rights and privacy at the hands of an inner "secret" police group trying to protect her lousy "father" Alexander Zalachenko a criminal and murderer of the worst kind. But it's not just about Lisbeth Salander... it's about the tough footwork, police work, and legal work that went into finally exposing The Section -- that inner, secret group of the Swedish secret police that did anything and everything to continue its power and criminal way of doing whatever its current leader deemed necessary to keep The Section going.
It's also about Blomqvist, the journalist who came to know Lisbeth and respect her. It's about his quest to see her well and free. It's about his mucked up life, for Blomqvist is a flawed man. He can't manage to hold down a true relationship for any length of time. His most long-standing relationship is his off-again-on-again sexual relationship with Erika Berger, his co-worker and long-time married friend. Blomqvist was married once, but that marriage ended when Blomqvist and Berger started up again. It's a bit disappointing that Blomqvist's daughter is never heard of again, except for a brief mention in Book #1. I expected her or the ex-wife to be used as leverage of some sort; or perhaps Blomqvist's sister's family... in a way, it's a relief that Larsson didn't stoop to the obvious.
It's also about Berger, who at the end of Book #2 had decided to leave Millenium as editor-in-chief and take on the same position at a large Swedish paper. In this book, her life is hell as she takes on that charge. She's got a twisted person out for revenge -- someone close enough to write emails to her and supposedly being her of a terrific sexual nature... someone who's violated her home security and stolen sensitive photos and videos that Berger doesn't want the public to see.
What a shame that Mr. Larsson died so unexpectedly! On a website, stieglarsson.com, it mentions that his long-time partner Eva has possession of what was to be the 4th book in the series, "God's Hand". Legal battles between Eva and Larsson's family have held up the book's completion and publishing and probably will until the end of time. Such a shame, because Larsson leaves us with the impression that there's still a lot for both Salander and Blomqvist to do -- even hinting at a possible professional partnership. Blomqvist may or may not be in his first serious relationship since his failed marriage; Berger's tried to promise not to interfere - can she keep her promise? Because Blomqvist's new love won't stand for a rival - she's made that perfectly clear.
And what about Salander? What will her life be like now, when most of her secrets have been told to someone? How will it be for her now? Can she live any sense of a "normal" life after spending so much time trying to avenge the wrongs done to her? I doubt Salander can or will change much from who she is, and perhaps I'm putting my own wishes upon her, but it would nice for her to find some sort of love -- a love relationship where she can learn to be "safe". Not the casual sexual encounters she specializes in. Someone even to bridge the way into something more long-term. Is that possible for Salander?
But undoubtedly, Salander, Blomqvist, and the staff at Millenium have the opportunity to once more expose and right wrongs within the system. They now have the attention of the police, the secret police, the justice system, and the public. What could "God's Hand" be about?
The intensity of Book #3 makes it, for me, the most difficult book to read. As readers, we know most of Salander's "secrets" by now, so their unveiling isn't the shock or suspense value. No, it's the success or failure of the police and those trying to piece together the "real" story and find the justice in it... will they succeed? Can The Section truly be brought down with minimal blood shed? Who will live and who will die? Are there other "arms" of The Section that we don't even know about who will take revenge upon Salander et al next? And what about Armansky and his security company?
While so much is finally brought to light in this book, AND some justice is served, is it enough? I said this is a mostly satisfying book... mostly, because there are still so many open questions about what's next in the lives of Salander and Blomqvist.
But perhaps it's best for readers to make up their own minds about what's next.
FWIW, the Swedish films of the 3 books are available at netflix.com. I've seen movies 1 & 2, and they're quite good. It's always jarring to "see" someone you've been picturing for yourself, so I can't say that Mikael is who I would cast or even Armansky. But the movies are a good representation of the books - mostly faithful, because how much of these books can you fit into just over 2 hours? So many of the smaller details are left behind, which can be a bit disappointing. But overall, the movies are worth watching. The actress who plays Salander IS Salander. The American version of Book 1 is due out Dec. 21, 2011. It'll be interesting to compare and contrast that version of the movie with the Swedish movie and then to Book #1.(less)
Stieg Larsson definitely wanted to tackle social issues with his trilogy -- to expose injustices and corruption... and in this book, to lambast the fr...moreStieg Larsson definitely wanted to tackle social issues with his trilogy -- to expose injustices and corruption... and in this book, to lambast the frenzy so easily caused by the media. While his base is Sweden, it's easy to see that these issues are global. Just look at today's headlines and the "hot" stories in the tabloids, both print and media.
But Larsson doesn't just show us the "bad" guys, he shows us that there are both bad and good everywhere: in government, the prosecutor's office, the police and detectives, journalists, and the public sector
Lisbeth Salander is the means by which Larsson tells his story. It seems almost unreal that Salander is the impetus behind much of the goings on in this book. What begins as an expose from both a journalist and a doctoral university candidate on the sex trade in Sweden and how it's virtually ignored turns into a much deeper story involving Lisbeth and "All The Evil". Larsson reveals to us in this second book what "All The Evil" is and what happened to Salander to make her who she is today.
Along the way, we rub shoulders with a wide variety of characters, from virtually every walk of life: Sobe (my tae is that it's Sweden's version of the CIA or MI6), the police force, the Swedish version of "Hells Angels", Nils Bjurman (Salander's current "guardian"), Dr. Teleborian (psychiatrist responsible for having Salander committed to a children's insane ward and for official records that she's mentally unstable and retarded), Evil Fingers (the girl band that Salander occasionally hung out with), "Mimmi" Miriam Wu (off-and-on lover of Salander's), a famous Swedish boxer, Blomqvist's sister Anna Giannini, Dragan Armanksy and his private security firm & employees, Palmgren (Salander's previous guardian, before he had a stroke), and of course the cast of Millenium magazine - especially Blomqvist & Berger.
We start with Salander in Grenada, and we learn that she's been sight-seeing around the world for the past year on money she managed to "lift" from Wernerstrom's account before giving Blomqvist the necessary research to nail him to the wall. Salander weathers a hurricane and a dicey situation with a couple from Texas.
Bjurman is just recovering from 2 years worth of nightmares from when Salander blackmailed him. And he's out for revenge. So he starts uncovering everything he can about her past... and finds the one person from her past who he (Bjurman) knows can help him revenge himself once and for all on Salander. Bjurman doesn't just want her soul, he wants to destroy Salander.
Blomqvist is in Sweden, unaware that Salander is traveling, but very aware that she obviously wants nothing to do with him anymore, although why that should be he hasn't a clue. Blomqvist has a new freelancer, Svennson who has a piece on the sex trade in Sweden that he's going to sell to Millenium... AND allow them to publish in a book for him. Svennson's fiance, Mia Johansson, is up for her doctoral at the local university, and her thesis is the other side of Svennson's story. Between them, they name names, give details, and provide statistics; everything is thoroughly documented. And it will bring down a lot of grief and embarrassment, not only on the "johns", of whom many are in positions that should be upholding Sweden's sex trade laws not violating them, but also on the sex traders themselves.
Only days away from publishing, Svennson and Jonansson are brutally murdered - one shot each. Blomqvist was on his way to pick up some material and discovers the bodies... and the discarded gun. The gun turns out to have Salander's prints on it - as well as a smashed coffee mug in Svennson and Johansson's apartment. And then, Bjurman is discovered murdered, naked & execution-style at the foot of his bed -- shot with the same gun, which happened to belong to him. Suddenly, Salander is the leading suspect. And as the detective team starts pulling info on Salander together, she's painted as the most sadistic, strange, sexually-deviant, amoral, dangerous, psychotic person imaginable. The media goes into a feeding frenzy. The prosecutor leaks info to the media that he believes will help him win a slam-dunk case against Salander, when she's caught. Armansky lends the detective team 2 of his own, with the idea that he (Armansky) wants to know what's going on to protect Salander as much as possible and make sure she gets a fair deal. Except that one of the guys he's loaned to the force has a grudge against Salander.
As the detective team tries to make sense of the details of the case, all focus in on Salander. And yet, the lead detective is puzzled. The written reports show her to be mentally ill, retarded, and dangerous. The verbal reports he gets from Blomqvist, Mimmi, Armansky, and others who knew Salander (as well as she can be known) show Lisbeth Salander to be intelligent and capable, even if she does have her own version of morality -- hurt me, I hurt you. The only link between the 2 murder scenes seems to be Salander... until a connection is made between the sex trade scandal and a "john" retired from Sobe (the secret police) who knew and worked with Bjurman.
And the name "Zala" or Zalachenko keeps coming up. But the man seems to be a ghost. Who is he and what has he to do with Lisbeth Salander? It's not an easy road, nor is it an easy read.
My main "complaint" is that two of the bad guys share a similar name, and so I was very confused until the last chapters of the book. One guys is supposedly the "arm" of Zala, and the other guys is associated with the Swedish "Hells Angels" gang... except for the longest time, I thought they were one and the same. So when the text talks about the Hells Angels guy being in custody, but the police are looking for the monster, I just couldn't figure it out.
Where we end up is, as in the 1st book, not quite what or where you'd expect. Twists upon twists... turns upon turns. And if truth is stranger than fiction, I hesitate to know if Larsson based any of this on reality. *shudder*
If you read this book, you'll HAVE to read the 3rd book, which picks up exactly where this book ends.
I'm having a tough time imagining this book as a movie, although I know that the Swedish version is already filmed and out. I expect that the U.S./U.K. version will be soon, too, since the 1st movie is expected to hit theatres Dec. 21st. But there is so much in this book that can't be shown... or can it? Guess we'll have to wait and see.(less)
Wow... I knew this wasn't an easy story. I had some expectation of sordid and terror. Little did I know!
Sometimes I wonder why we're drawn to stories...moreWow... I knew this wasn't an easy story. I had some expectation of sordid and terror. Little did I know!
Sometimes I wonder why we're drawn to stories such as these, filled with horrors and terrors and evil. Couldn't there still be a story here, one that wasn't so... much? I suppose that's the ostrich view of the world, so here goes.
It's easy to see how this book has become a movie phenomenon - 1st the Swedish version in 2010 and now the American version in 2011. Lisbeth Salander is a dream role: non-conformist, dark, brooding, take action, kick butt, tormented young woman who's got a photographic memory, is a whiz with technology, and can find patterns in seemingly unrelated and irrelevant information. Mikael Blomkvist is a celebrated journalist, co-owner of a magazine, and on top of the world... until he's set up with his current expose and is convicted of libel, which nearly wipes out his life savings, ruins his reputation and career, and has him serve 3 months in prison.
You'd never put these two people together. Ever. And yet Stieg Larsson did, and quite successfully.
And he gives us a murder-mystery to boot -- one filled with ugly family secrets and fetishes... a beloved 16 year old girl, Harriet, who vanishes.
Mikael is lured into supposedly writing the Vanger family history, but is really trying to find new angles on what happened to Harriet. Except most of the family is highly suspect. And trying to stop him. Especially when he brings Lisbeth aboard as his research assistant.
I can't say that I condone or approve of the violence and horrors in the book. It's a pity that the original title, "Men Who Hate Women", didn't stick. Because that's what you must keep in mind as you read the book. I was particularly outraged at the cover-up that occurs near the end of the book. I see how it would only open old wounds and expose new ones, but I don't agree with Lisbeth's attitude of getting revenge rather than justice. I see how she no longer believes in "the system", so for her to suggest that course of action is within her character. But for Mikael and others to *allow* the cover-up and make it happen... all the money in the world can't replace, revenge, or make up for what happened.
I also have a tough time with Mikael's casual sexuality. It might be vogue, but it cheapens him and his character. Double-standard is, that Lisbeth is in character with the way that she expresses herself sexually. But Lisbeth likely has some form of autism, perhaps Asperger's Syndrome, as Mikael theorizes. You can't hold her to the same standard. I also don't like the casualness of Mikael's relationship with his daughter. I suppose these are his flaws... the things that make him human, the tragic hero, the everyman.
This book is definitely a thrill ride. It's definitely NOT your light reading, average mystery, or even typical thriller. This book is intriguing -- it draws you in and keeps your attention. You *want* to know what happened... and what's happening. But be warned that this book isn't for everyone -- especially those who might not be able to shake off it's horrors. Recommend it carefully.(less)
This book is a smart, witty, funny book that almost seems out of character for Maugham. We delve into the lighter side of life with an acting family a...moreThis book is a smart, witty, funny book that almost seems out of character for Maugham. We delve into the lighter side of life with an acting family and their world of theatre.
However, as I read the book, I couldn't get the movie "Being Julia" out of my mind. In fact, it was if I read the book and watched the movie at the same time. Obviously, there's more detail in the book... but I'd have been quite content to just watch the masterful Annette Benning bring Julia to life.(less)