He slapped her hard. Salander opened her eyes wide, but before she could react, he grabbed her by the shoulder and threw her on to the bed. The violence caught her by surprise. When she tried to turn over, he pressed her down on the bed and straddled her.
That's just to give you a little taste of what one is dealing with by picking up this book. If you can handle that and the previous x
amount of paragraphs and the following x
amount of paragraphs, you're golden. If that sort of makes that thing in your throat rise up a little bit and make your mouth taste sour, you might reconsider reading this book.
I wasn't going to read this book, ever. But then I saw the theater up the street from me (a cool one that plays those indie and art films, and their popcorn is always sort of either stale or slightly burnt, and the employees all have an air of snootiness - it's one of my favorite places in town) is showing the foreign movie. My first thought was, "When did they make a movie of this book?" My second thought was, "Dammit. I sort of want to see that movie." My third thought was, "Sonsofbitches. I can't see it until I read it." (Yes, I'm hard on myself, thanks.) So last weekend when we went out of town I decided it was the best time to purchase it and read it. The mini-break was going to entail my boyfriend spending hours playing guitars with his brother and then later with his BFF, and his brother's fiance and his BFF's wife were all conveniently elsewhere for the most part, so I had the fantastic opportunity to tag along and not have to do a damn thing
. I sat on the couch/futon/floor and read. I read a freaking lot. This was the book I had along to read.
It passed the time. It didn't bore me. It held my attention.
And... that's about it.
It didn't turn my world upside down, or even teeter it necessarily. This is what I like to refer to as a nice popcorn read. I didn't have to give it a lot of thought, the story sort of did the work for me, I was just an innocent and willing bystander. I actually got a little annoyed the few times when it felt like I was beginning to have to work. Like figuring out who the hell Larsson was talking about at any given moment - he was apparently one of those authors who liked to use a character's first name in one sentence and then refer to the same character by their last name in the next sentence. What's up with that? Make a freaking decision and stick with it. Eventually I stopped caring so much.
My biggest annoyance with the book (and likely to be the most offense to lovers of this book who stumble across my humble review here) was not the violence and the rape; it actually was Lisbeth Salander. The female protagonist. Okay, so she's cool. I get
that. She's Hotty-McHotterson, all corporate and world-weary and a computer hacker to boot. She's pierced and inked, and for some reason this is such a source of fascination for Larsson (and apparently everyone who reads this book). Every time Salander comes into the story there is a mention about her piercings, her surly attitude, her tough clothes, her tattoos. At one point another character counts her tattoos. Six. Six
. This apparently contributes to some point Larsson was trying to make that Salander is a social freak, but he's still clearly obsessed with the image of her. For the record, numerous piercings, surly attitudes, tough clothes and six tattoos sums up just about every female I know. It's not all that bizarre. This is, after all, the 21st century. Anyone who lived through the 80s/90s either embodies all of those things or at least doesn't bat an eyelash at those things in others. Maybe it's different in Sweden. Maybe they're just now getting the whole dyed-hair-pierced-faces-crazy-tattoos craze there. Wow. Way to go, Sweden. Maybe if you all hadn't spent the last 30 years listening to ABBA and Europe obsessively
, you might actually not find kick-ass girls in boots all that magical.
All of these unfair generalizations aside, I can honestly say that I read this book and I'm not all that excited about it. I'm not dying to read the next one, but I'm sure I will eventually (probably if they make a movie of it too). I'm certainly not waiting with bated breath for the third book in the trilogy to come out. I guess I'm just not that fascinated by Salander in particular, so I don't really care what happens to her next. Maybe the movie will make me feel differently. We'll see.
ETA (01/14/12): I have since read The Girl Who Played with Fire
which I enjoyed more than this first book, though my impression of Lisbeth hadn't changed that much. I have also seen the Hollywood version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
which I liked more than the book because the performances were fantastic, Fincher is a wonderful director, and I felt like the characters could breathe which is something I felt they were unable to do in the book because they were so constricted and pigeon-holed.