M.J. Fiori's Reviews > The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
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's review
Jun 25, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: krimi-mystery-thriller-procedural, actually-reviewed

I quickly fell under the spell of this book. I HAD to know the mystery - about Lisbeth Salander as well as Harriet Vanger - and sacrificed more than a few hours of sleep to the cause. My friend Molly compared the experience of reading this book to "eating bad Chinese food." Yes, you wolf it down ravenously. But, oh, later. The heartburn. The regret. The writing is pedestrian, when not positively purple in hue. What makes this book are the characters and the adept way that Larsson keeps them in constant motion somewhere in the air above his head like juggling balls. That dexterity - and the sheer number of characters included - reminds me a bit of Dickens.

Another bone to pick: Although Larsson was a crusader against rights abuses and particularly championed victimized women, I have to find fault with the highly graphic, nearly lovingly created scenes of sadistic, sensationalist sexual torture included in the book. Yes, he gives lip-service to the fact that they are BAD. These are bad people doing bad things! But they are included in gory detail - for us to gasp at and/or drool over, as the case may be - all the same. I'm very conflicted about this part of the reading experience. Because, truth be told, this book (and the two sequels) were a guilty pleasure for me. I feel terribly guilty for gulping them down and enjoying them so much, that they wrested so much of my attention and my time from me. But I do have to admit that it was a pleasure.

Very sad that Larsson's envisioned 10-book series is not to be. I would most certainly have read them all. There's nothing worse than when an author dies midstream. It's my greatest fear for all of my favorite living authors. In Larsson's case, too, I really think he would have improved more and more as a writer with each book.

The English translation is pretty bad. From what I've read, it was done hurriedly and under such meddlesome pressure from the publisher that the original translator asked to have his name removed from the finished product.

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