Nilesh Kashyap's Reviews > The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
6361703
's review
Dec 09, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: translated
Read from April 13 to 21, 2012

A good book that got screwed up due to poor writing
Keeping in mind that the only crime/mystery novels I have read are novels by Dan Brown and novels dealing with financial matters are the ones by Jeffrey Archer, on this basis I can say that this book was a cross between their book but not at par with either, inferior to both.

The premise of the story is not so simple:
Meet Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist of financial sectors, but today his accusations against industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerstrom are proved to be false hence he is fined and sentenced three months in prison for libelling.
Trying to get away from his publication house for some time, he lands up at Hedeby island, with Henrik Vanger, retired CEO of Vanger corporation. Henrik asks him to solve the mystery behind murder of her niece, Harriet Vanger.
Murder was committed some 36 years ago on same island where entire Vanger family was present on some occasion and island was temporarily cut off from the world due to accident on bridge, the only connecting link. So the island is isolated and there is chaos on island due to accident, and in midst of this Harriet disappears, body never found, considered dead. So what unfolds is a locked-room murder mystery.
Did I miss something? Yes, Lisbeth Salander.
Cold, calculated and the girl with the dragon tattoo. She works as personal investigator at a security firm, her story moves parallel to the Blomkvist’s story until she is hired as detective alongside Blomkvist.

Positive aspects of the story:
Let me confess that this is one of the best murder mystery novel I have ever read (though I am not a fan of this genre). At no point I could guess who is the murderer, because there is no hint but when it is disclosed, it perfectly fits with the story. What makes this story even more interesting is that murder was committed 36 years ago, some people present on that day are already dead and some are too old.
The characters are excellently portrayed and plus point of the story. Larsson uses subplot to develop characters over pages and pages before jumping into action. Therefore I connected with their thoughts and decisions, except Lisbeth. She has been shown differently and this makes her an interesting character, she downplays emotion and makes unpredictable moves.

What went wrong with such a good story that I rated it only 3 stars.
I have heard people say that bad translation can ruin a good story. Well, this sets a perfect example in that case. I’m sure, if Steig Larsson could write such a good story then his prose in English would have been readable and interesting enough. What I’m trying to say is, Reg Keeland (the translator) f**ked up this amazing 5 star novel to a 3 star read. I know that I love sleeping but falling asleep at the climax of the story means seriously bad writing.

Another thing that this book needs other than good translator is a good editor. There is so much unnecessary excessive detailing of electronic gadgets, let me give you example, Lisbeth’s laptop get run over by a vehicle and now she needs to buy a new one, so here the author goes on to give entire configuration of the laptop that was damaged and again the entire configuration of the laptop she is eyeing to buy. One more, one more, Blomkvist relocates to new house and is taking electronic items out of his bag, here each time he takes out a item, the author write about it with its BRAND NAME, Sony laptop, Sanyo sound recorder, this scanner, that portable printer.

And yes, how can I forget all those coffee and sandwich(es). Throughout the entire story, the only things that the characters drank and ate were coffee and sandwich, coffee and sandwich, coffee and sandwich, coffee and sandwich.

Last thing that I didn’t liked was the wrap-up of subplot after the central story has already ended. After the story ended, the author goes on further 50 pages or so to put an end to Wennerstrom affair, which is highly unreadable.

One thing more is that this was published as trilogy, so even when the main characters life is on line and the situation is supposed to be highly tensed, it isn’t because I know that the main characters will survive because there are two books remaining ahead.

Themes explored:
This book is originally named- Men who hate Women, and there are many theme explored with abuse of women (in Sweden), like rape, incest, BDSM etc. Many more themes have been explored explicitly in this brilliant review by Riku.
69 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

04/13 page 30
5.0%
05/23 marked as: read
show 2 hidden updates…

Comments (showing 1-25 of 25) (25 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Dan (new) - rated it 4 stars

Dan Schwent I liked this more than you but I agree some of the details were needless. I think if Larsson had still been alive when these were published, they would have been edited down a bit and much easier reads.


Prashant I don't agree with you but what the hell!!


Nilesh Kashyap Dan wrote: "I think if Larsson had still been alive when these were published, they would have been edited down a bit and much easier ..."

I agree with you Dan, that if Larsson would have been alive, the book would have undergone editing process. It seems to me that when Larsson died, the publisher were in hurry to use Larsson's death as publicity and therefore without spending time on editing they quickly published it and then this unedited edition got translated into english and published too.


Nilesh Kashyap Prashant wrote: "I don't agree with you but what the hell!!"

Many people will not agree with me, but may I know that you disagree on what points? And why that 'what the hell'.


Prashant
Many people will not agree with me, but may I know that you disagree on what points? And why that 'what the hell'."


What went wrong with such a good story that I rated it only 3 stars.
I have heard people say that bad translation can ruin a good story. Well, this sets a perfect example in that case. I’m sure, if Steig Larsson could write such a good story then his prose in English would have been readable and interesting enough. What I’m trying to say is, Reg Keeland (the translator) f**ked up this amazing 5 star novel to a 3 star read. I know that I love sleeping but falling asleep at the climax of the story means seriously bad writing.

Well I read this book a couple of years back and call it my naivety but as far as I remember this was and still is one of the best translations ever done. I mean it's not as good as If on a Winter's Night A Traveller but still definitely did justice to Larsson's idea.

Another thing that this book needs other than good translator is a good editor. There is so much unnecessary excessive detailing of electronic gadgets, let me give you example, Lisbeth’s laptop get run over by a vehicle and now she needs to buy a new one, so here the author goes on to give entire configuration of the laptop that was damaged and again the entire configuration of the laptop she is eyeing to buy. One more, one more, Blomkvist relocates to new house and is taking electronic items out of his bag, here each time he takes out a item, the author write about it with its BRAND NAME, Sony laptop, Sanyo sound recorder, this scanner, that portable printer.

This just seems to be the case of pretentious criticism. The protagonists were specialists in their professions. What they used for their work was very specific and hi-tech and it may need some explanation for the readers to understand what kind of gadgets they are working with.
I don't remember being bogged down by excessive details or even any undue advertising of any brands. I am very averse to that kind of thing and would have definitely noticed it.


And yes, how can I forget all those coffee and sandwich(es). Throughout the entire story, the only things that the characters drank and ate were coffee and sandwich, coffee and sandwich, coffee and sandwich, coffee and sandwich.

Haha, this one was great. I hope you had a pen while reading the book so that you can mark whenever they had a coffee or a sandwich. How many did they have anyway? :)

And why that 'what the hell'.

I just wanted to let this one go as your opinion but couldn't resist to comment because of the thin reasoning you used.

I am still a fan of your wring style. Keep writing!!


Nilesh Kashyap But my biggest problem with this book was its translation, there was no flow in writing, it was simply uninteresting. Despite the story being so interesting, I just couldn't enjoy it and the only reason I see behind my blocked enjoyment is poor writing.

Talking about excessive details is not a pretentious criticism, I also realised that they were specialized in certain field but not by gadgets that they carried but by work they did and the results they produced. Those details looked like I'm reading brochure and nothing else
I still think this book seriously needs editing especially when it comes to coffee and sandwich.
There's nothing much in my writing style, its plain, but feels good to know that you like it.


Maureen nilesh: i think you're dead on with some of these points. i don't disagree with your feelings regarding the edit -- you'll see that i only gave the book two stars myself. a friend of mine from norway is able to read swedish and she claims there is no fault of translation -- she found problems with the writing and the editing in the original. see here what others perceived to be the failings of the book:
http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2... for a long group discussion -- maren is the one who read the original. :)

the book has a compulsive page-turner quality that makes you want to know what happens but the writing isn't high literature, in my opinion. :)


Nilesh Kashyap Maureen wrote: "a friend of mine from norway is able to read swedish and she claims there is no fault of translation -- she found problems with the writing and the editing in the original."

Thanks Maureen for this piece of information, but the only reason why I was shoving this poor writing blame on translator is because I expect some creative prose from someone, who can write such a good story.
I agree with your opinion and yes, thanks for that link.


Pixelina lol coffee and sandwiches = Fika, an unique swedish expression that you really can't even translate. A Fika is like a social snack. It rarely features sandwiches to be honest. Coffee yeah, but the main thing is really the social bit. It is a pause, a time for reflection and gossip.

One thing to remember is that Stieg Larsson always were more of a journalist then a writer, his writing were only secondary to the message. Also the english translation of the title is just LAME. The original title is 'Men who hate women'
I am not much for thrillers myself though so I never even finished the other 2 books.


Nilesh Kashyap Moonbutterfly wrote: "The book did feel unfinished and there is an obvious structure issue."

Definitely it had structure issue but I felt it was finish rather over-finished. I hope that you know its part of trilogy, so if you somehow felt this unfinished, try reading the other two.


Nilesh Kashyap Jeanette wrote: "lol coffee and sandwiches = Fika, an unique swedish expression that you really can't even translate. A Fika is like a social snack. It rarely features sandwiches to be honest. Coffee yeah, but the ..."

I have no problem with fika, but at some point this, coffee and sandwich thing started getting repititive. I mean I would have loved to know other tasty dishes that are served in Sweden other than that.
Since you're Swedish, have you tried comparing original and translation.


B0nnie I liked Lisbeth Salander but the father/son serial killer plot I found preposterous


Nilesh Kashyap Moonbutterfly wrote: "By unfinished, I meant it needed more re-working and editing. I did read all three books, and agree they got progressively worse."

So you have already read other two in the series. Okay! keeping aside bad writing and editing issue, how are other two books, on the basis of story?


Nilesh Kashyap B0nnie wrote: "I liked Lisbeth Salander but the father/son serial killer plot I found preposterous"

I also liked Lisbeth, she was very interesting. But why did the plot of father/son as serial killer looked absurd to you?


B0nnie Nilesh wrote: "B0nnie wrote: "I liked Lisbeth Salander but the father/son serial killer plot I found preposterous"I also liked Lisbeth, she was very interesting. But why did the plot of father/son as serial killer looked absurd to you? "

I have an instinct for these things ;-) can you think of a similar case in reality? Between the 2 of them they killed at least 40 women, leaving no clue or suspicion. And the father taught the son how to have sex! So he - the son - must have been stupid and would have been caught very soon.


Nilesh Kashyap BOnnie wrote: "can you think of a similar case in reality? Between the 2 of them they killed at least 40 women, leaving no clue or suspicion. And the father taught the son how to have sex! So he - the son - must have been stupid and would have been caught very soon."

Well, Larsson gives a pretty solid reason for why they never got caught by telling about how they choosed and zeroed on particular women to be killed next.
And as far as I remember, father didn't taught son to have sex, but sexually abused his son and instead of standing against his father, he joined and worked alongside his father. And then his father taught him to abuse women and kill them according to Leviticus.


B0nnie Nilesh wrote: "Well, Larsson gives a pretty solid reason for why they never got caught by telling about how they choosed and zeroed on particular women to be killed next.
And as far as I remember, father didn't taught son to have sex, but sexually abused his son and instead of standing against his father, he joined and worked alongside his father. And then his father taught him to abuse women and kill them according to Leviticus. "

Solid reason?? it's just nonsense. Think about it.
And here is the part I mentioned:
“You admire your father.”
“He was the one who taught me. He initiated me
“Uddevalla. Lea Persson.”
“Aren’t you clever? Yes, I was there. I only watched, but I was there.”
“1964. Sara Witt in Ronneby.”
“I was sixteen. It was the first time I had a woman. My father taught me. I was the one who strangled her.”
He’s bragging. Good Lord, what a revoltingly sick family.

BTW, even though I quote this, I do not believe this conversation would have taken place.


Nilesh Kashyap That conversation may see unnatural but was necessary to i) disclose the entire story and to ii) keep Blomkvist alive. And the conversation you have underlined, I see it this way:
I was sixteen. It was the first time I had a woman. / My father taught me. I was the one who strangled her.
His father must have been clever enough to leave clues and not get caught, but Michael left no clue due to fear of getting caught, maybe he was little stupid.


Nilesh Kashyap Now there is no point in re-editing this book, it had its fair share of fame and now very few readers are left who are about to read this book. Had it been edited during early stages, it would have been best. Despite all this I think that, this is one of the best mystery/thriller novel I have read till date.


Ankit Agrawal I have to say that of all the reviews I have read this one is the best. Though I do not agree with all of your points I seriously agree that the editing has been rubbish if its done at all (here I am not talking about the extra details but editing in general) and I also feel that if Larsson had been it would have been much better because the story was really really awesome


Nilesh Kashyap Ankit wrote: "I have to say that of all the reviews I have read this one is the best. Though I do not agree with all of your points I seriously agree that the editing has been rubbish if its done at all (here I ..."

Thanks for your comment and saying good words about my review. Everbody agrees about editing part, though you disagree on extra detailing, I couldn't help but just see them as useless information.


Ankit Agrawal Nilesh wrote: "Ankit wrote: "I have to say that of all the reviews I have read this one is the best. Though I do not agree with all of your points I seriously agree that the editing has been rubbish if its done a..."

The reason I don't agree on the extra detailing part is that it wasn't the extra detailing which was the problem in the book but the way the extra detailing was presented which was the problem. Like you have mentioned in the review sandwich and coffee and coffee and coffee...... and so on. If what they were eating would have been different everytime then it would not have caught so much attention. Thats just one example, likewise there were many other things in the book which were really good but were presented wrongly. All is the cause of editing. I would say that the extra detailing was one of the reasons the book grasped my attention in the first half. As you might have seen in my review I have given 1 extra star just for that reason in the first half of the book and it got a bit stretched out in the second half(the same things were repeated), the creativity was missing there.

I won't say it was useless, it was good on Larsson's part but the editor and translator have messed it all. The way its edited or translated I think I could have done this along with some guys who read books regularly if I knew Swedish Language. Commercialism (trying to make money quickly out of a superv plot) was the main reason this book didn't come out properly


Nilesh Kashyap It's been a long time since I read this and I don't remember most of the things from book clearly now. But you make logical point, so I guess you are probably right. But I see that every shortcoming come from the same point- bad editing. Yeah, commercialism is the most plausible reason for bad editing, though I also read somewhere that Larsson's finished and unfinished books went to his father and brother after his death (who were very distant from him and not much cared about him), instead of his wife (he officially never declared his marriage because there was threat to his life and declaring needed that he had to reveal his address). So his supportive wife(I don't recall exactly, but I think that she is also writer) couldn't do anything.


Ankit Agrawal Have you read the other two parts. I have read them and my views are totally changed. Its more than 5 star. But the editing and commercialism part still sticks and sucks. Still it definitely is a must read


message 25: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Wilson Sorry but I have to disagree that it was poorly written. Whether you love or hate the story, I found his writing style very intelligent and more sophisticated than 95 percent of the writers I have sampled in my life. You can definitely tell that he was a journalist before he wrote novels. I literally could not get enough of his writing style, if he had written 50 books in his career I would read every one.


back to top