Nataliya's Reviews > The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
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Mar 17, 12

bookshelves: awesome-kickass-heroines, 2011-reads, i-also-saw-the-film, first-in-a-series
Read from December 28 to 31, 2011, read count: 1


Thanks to the slew of Swedish and Hollywood movies, everyone knows that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a story of a kickass hacker Lisbeth Salander who has the eponymous tattoo and a knack for solving decades-old murders.

Well, not exactly. Lisbeth is awesome and badass, no doubt there, but this book is so much more than just her story, and focusing solely on that undermines the message Stieg Larsson was sending.

The original Swedish title is Men Who Hate Women and it is precisely what the story is about. (*)
* I am pretty sure it received its Book Witness Protection Program name change treatment to avoid being seen as "that feminist crap" in the English-speaking society. Where "feminist" sadly may still be viewed as an insult.
Apparently a teenage Larsson witnessed and failed to stop rape of a young woman. He was so affected by it that he wrote his magnum opus to make amends for the witnessed atrocity. Thus we have Men Who Hate Women, which is a short description of the focus of his entire Millenium series. Larsson speaks up - angrily, loudly, with conviction - on behalf of not just Salander but all women who have been marginalized, dismissed, paternalised, silenced, treated as inferior, treated as property, overlooked, infantilized, sexualized, assaulted, and murdered.

Larsson, like his protagonist Blomkvist, was an investigative journalist who specialized in airing out stuff that many "higher-ups" would want to see left alone. (**)
** To quote Terry Pratchett (all bow to his genius), "It's not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren't doing it."
This book is an angry and poignant social commentary on the right-wing extremism, prejudice, Nazi leanings, and of course misogyny that still permeate even the quintessential European paradise country of Sweden. Larsson condemns all this, and in his journalism-like style does not hold back the slightest bit. And it is often an uncomfortable read as we see and recognize all those little societal bits and conventions that make these prejudices and even violence possible.

Larsson may not be the most skillful writer, his prose may suffer from long-windedness and overabundance of details (seriously, at times it reads like a cross between a diary and a shopping catalog), but he has strong opinions on painful subjects and is not afraid to let them be known. He had this attitude both in his journalism and his fiction, and I applaud him for that. 3 stars only because of weak prose, but full marks for content.
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Quotes Nataliya Liked

Stieg Larsson
“Friendship- my definition- is built on two things. Respect and trust. Both elements have to be there. And it has to be mutual. You can have respect for someone, but if you don't have trust, the friendship will crumble.”
Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Stieg Larsson
“Isn't it fascinating that Nazis always manage to adopt the word freedom?”
Stieg Larsson, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


Comments (showing 1-16 of 16) (16 new)

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Catie Nice review! I agree that the original title is so much more relevant to the book. I had no idea about that bit of history about Stieg Larsson - how interesting.

And of course I love the Terry Pratchett quote. :)


Nataliya Thanks, Catie! I do think that Stieg Larsson's life had enough interesting and exciting details in it to base a book or a movie on it.
I also think Terry Pratchett quotes are applicable to most situations in life :)


message 3: by Jax (new)

Jax love the pratchett quote thrown in there


Nataliya Jax wrote: "love the pratchett quote thrown in there"

I firmly believe that no conversation (or in this case, no review) is complete without a reference to Terry Pratchett. I admire his genius.


message 5: by Jax (new)

Jax agreed


message 6: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim Excellent review! I love your shelf-name, 'awesome-kickass-heroines'. I recently started my 'strong-smart-female-protagonist' shelf, a name I borrowed from Kaethe. Not as sassy as yours, but I wanted to include the heroines who don't actually kick anything...

I am (gradually) working through her list to label what I have, and see what I just gotta have. Hope you don't mind if I do likewise with yours. I am lazy that way, and I learn a lot!


Nataliya Jim wrote: "Excellent review! I love your shelf-name, 'awesome-kickass-heroines'. I recently started my 'strong-smart-female-protagonist' shelf, a name I borrowed from Kaethe. Not as sassy as yours, but I wan..."

Well, my definition of "kickass" is broad enough to include the non-kicking types as well :) And you are definitely welcome to work through my shelves!


message 8: by Jim (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jim That works for me, on both counts!


Carol. [All cynic, all the time] Thanks for the review, Nataliya. You've changed my name on whether or not to read it (I might have read the original :)


Nataliya Carol wrote: "Thanks for the review, Nataliya. You've changed my name on whether or not to read it (I might have read the original :)"

Well, I'm glad :) But here is a word of warning - the first 50-70 pages or so are a bit tedious, but the story picks up once the exposition is done. It's rather interesting exposition, by the way, but it has turned some people off theis book.


Carolynne Thank you for clarifiying the title, as I had been confused by the American title, since I did not see Salander as the protagonist. I had wondered why the title...


Rhonda Great review


Marina Dubois I must say that this review was one of the best I have ever read. I'm happy that you pointed out that the English title is misleading. I know the Swedish title and plot is a bit chocking even to us Swedes, that are very aware about the issue of hate towards women. But I really recommend to watch the original Swedish movie too, it's much better.

I have not yet finished this book, but I must agree with you. I like his prose, though some details were unnecessary.


Nataliya Marina wrote: "I must say that this review was one of the best I have ever read. I'm happy that you pointed out that the English title is misleading. I know the Swedish title and plot is a bit chocking even to us..."

I'm glad I'm not the only one frustrated with the discrepancy between Swedish and English titles and the change of message that the English title conveys.

I have seen the Swedish movie and I loved it. Salander was excellent in it, and Blomkvist was more believable without the glamour Daniel Craig inevitably brings to the role.


Crabbygirl I didn't know those details about his bio - maybe I need to rethink my review... but spot-on with that 'shopping guide' comment. I wonder if it's the IKEA in him?


Booksarethebest♥ I love this book because it shows the reality about violence against Women.


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