Monday, January 31, 2011

CBR-III: Book #2: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

How exactly does one go about writing a review for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo without reiterating what countless others have already said? How do you bring a new or fresh approach to the table? I hopped on over to Pajiba and read Prisco’s review from the glory days of 2008 and one line in particular stuck out to me: It commits so many errors that would normally piss me off, but it’s got such an interesting cast of characters, and such a disarming narrative structure, you drift along madly with the story.

That…that…is total truth.

Plot: We follow a recently discredited reporter, Blomkvist. It begins with a battle against Wennerstrom, delves into the family life (and search for the killer of a presumed dead girl) of the Vanger’s, and goes back to Wennerstrom. Along the way Blomkvist is joined by a detective/hacker named Salander.

The real star of the story is Salander. I wonder if Stieg Larsson intended that when he wrote the books (there’s a trilogy)...well, this book in particular. We can’t really ask him, because he died right after he turned the manuscripts in. I honestly don’t think so. I have a feeling he probably wished he was Blomkvist. In many ways he (Larsson) was as a political journalist who was known to receive many death threats because of his own work. Blomkvist is not only this fascinating 50-something journalist, but he’s also in good shape and quite the ladies man (he has 3? 4? Sexual partners in the course of the book). I have a feeling though, that when writing it, he realized who the more interesting character was. A lot of times when I write fiction (I don’t know if this is the case for everyone) I have a character that I determine is the lead. That character is my main character whom I love. However, as I write, I create another character that is wholly more interesting. They are more fun to write and rather fascinating. I fall in love with them. I got the impression, through the progression of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, that this is the case. In the beginning of the book we are really only given sharp snippets of Salander. As it progresses these are expanded until she is almost on par, face time, with Blomkvist. Picture it this way, when filming American History X, the film was supposed to be about Danny (Edward Furlong)…and ended up being more about Derek (Edward Norton).

Salander is 4’11”. She only weighs a little over a 100 lbs. Close cut red hair that she dyes black. She has tattoos, piercings, and for all due purposes is Goth. She is anti-social. Troubled. Despite being in her early twenties she is still considered a ward of the state. She’s also ruthless, cunning, and highly intelligent. Add to the fact that she’s an incredibly accomplished hacker, somewhat independently wealthy, and has ties in the underground…she’s dangerous. And hot. So hot.

My problem with the book was this…

The beginning is exceptionally boring. So much so in fact that I’ve actually talked to several people who stopped reading it…because the beginning is boring. If you can actually manage to get past it…woohoo…the book picks up like a bolt of lightning. It’s going to die again towards the end, but only because he tries to tie everything up into a nice little bow in about twenty pages. Until the very last few pages of the book. Those leave you…sad…yet optimistic.

Other than that it was little things. Like a guy who would compare prison to a vacation. Now, I’ve never been to prison…but I’ve been to jail…and jail was nothing like a prison. I can only imagine what prison is like, and I don’t care to imagine that.

Or a sexual relationship that ends on one page…picks up on another…and then ends within a few more. Too fast and rather unnecessary. Plus, I can’t understand why women fall in love with an asshole. Blomkvist…is an asshole. Then again this seems accurate to real life.

I also couldn’t understand why a rape victim would sleep with someone so soon after being raped. I can understand the need to portray Salander as a fucked up person. However, that seemed a little too fucked up. I felt she was stronger person then to convey herself through sex. In fact, given her standoffish nature and personal life…I considered her more of an anti-sexual person. Every time it mentioned her having casual sex I felt a little pinched. Here’s why. Look around you. Name one loner computer geek you know (male or female) , who spends most of their time alone and staring at a computer screen, who prides themselves on not letting anyone near them and always has their guard up…who gets laid…on a frequent basis. A person who is that anti-social simply does not have the necessary skills to get laid. On most occasions it seemed like Salander would just walk up to someone and say, “Let’s fuck.” Done. Game over. No questions asked. Granted…she’s a tiny little hot thing…but I’m not buying it. Also, the fact that he made her bi…it’s just…I really liked the character…I just couldn’t believe the character.

I will admit though...I'm looking forward to reading The Girl Who Played With Fire.

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