Thursday, March 24, 2011

Week 11: The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Stieg Larsson

Oh, it’s THESE books. Yes, it’s the “Millennium Trilogy”. (If only you could see my smirk as I typed that.) I admit it. I can be snobby when it comes to creative mediums such books, or music, or art. I see a girl on the bus reading Eat Pray Love and it makes me want to die inside. When I hear someone mentioning some band they love and I hate, my internal monologue starts loudly singing “la la la la la la la” to drown them out. So with that in mind, imagine me reading “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”, face red, sleeve obscuring the cover of the book as if it were Hustler magazine. A coworker had lent it to me, and I needed something to read, and whatever, I just read the damn thing. When I finished it, I was fairly underwhelmed. I didn’t get what all the hype was about. I had once read a review of it that asserted it must have been “edited by a Pomeranian” and that thought always stuck with me. Not long after finishing it, however, I found myself reflecting on it here and there. Then I found myself renting the Swedish movie adaptation. So, when the aforementioned coworker offered to lend me the second book, “The Girl Who Played with Fire,” I accepted. I’m going to be honest and disclose that I actually enjoyed this book very much. It’s better paced than the first one, and it’s generally more suspenseful and engaging. The protagonist, Lisbeth Salander, is magnetic. She’s a goofy goth/punk kid that is sort of a mix of different subcultures, but her intelligence and tenaciousness really draw the reader in. She is an intriguing mix of kindness and coldness. As the reader learns more about her past, she becomes even more likable. There is an undercurrent of feminism that permeates the both this book and the first, and there are plenty of strong female characters. There are male characters who act terribly towards women, and they always get what’s coming to them. Without revealing too much, the plot surrounds itself around Salander being pursued for three murders while her ally, Mikael Blomkvist, tries to clear her name. At many points during the book I audibly gasped, and the ending is great (if not exasperating). Basically, if you can accept these books for what they are – a guilty pleasure, not literature – you will find each of them to be a fun, engrossing read.

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