Katya's Reviews > The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
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's review
Jan 14, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: imitating-life
Read from August 04 to 16, 2010

** spoiler alert ** I really don't understand how this book became so popular. Above all else, I would have thought that most readers would have gotten fed up with the first 200 pages of slow backstory, character introductions and set-up and given up on this book. I very nearly did.

I don't know if it's the translation or just Larsson's style, but I thought the writing was terrible. The dialogue was wooden and awkward, and quite often I had no idea who was talking because there was absolutely no distinction between the characters' voices. Someone has a coffee or eats a sandwich on nearly every page, and Larsson seems to love name-dropping electronic brands and computer specs, which adds nothing to the book except for unnecessary length. He also seems to have no idea how to show the readers anything, instead resorting to plain observations. Style-wise, it's the dullest book I've ever read.

I would give the mystery itself a solid two stars, but the terrible writing and my overwhelming hatred for Lisbeth Salander knocked the book down to a solid one. I can't comprehend how anyone might think she's a strong, admirable female heroine. She's a sociopath. Her inability to relate to people, her disdain for authority, her penchant for violence, her complete lack of understanding of personal or ethical boundaries... and this is a character to revere? I found her profoundly irritating, as well as terrifying, and the glamourization of sociopathy is a serious issue in this book. Besides, what kind of strong female character buys a pair of fake boobs for an undercover job - and then decides to keep them? I don't see how I'm supposed to look up to this.

The main plot of the novel centers around the rape, torture and murder of women. The claim is that the book is supposed to raise awareness and empower women, or something like that. I couldn't really tell, because all I could focus on was the fact that the sex scenes - the consensual, presumably pleasant sex scenes - always took place offstage and the acts of violence against women were always described in graphic detail. Seems rather counterproductive to me.

Blomkvist is a cardboard cutout and even Salander doesn't know why she falls in love with him. Larsson just wants her to, so she does, even though it's completely out of character for her. But apparently all she needs to clean up her apartment, learn some ethics and become a productive member of society is the love of a man. Feminist manifesto indeed.

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Reading Progress

08/10/2010 page 219
41.0% "Allow me to leave you with these two quotes: "She had had over fifty partners since the age of fifteen [...] which was OK for a single girl who had come to regard sex as an enjoyable pastime." "Armansky had groped her one time too, but it had been a friendly groping, no ill intentions, and not a demonstration of power." OH OKAY... NO." 1 comment

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