#186 ~ The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Cover of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

** See the end of my review for information on my upcoming Tattoo-You Contest in honor of Stieg Larsson **

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is an addicting novel that tells in the story of two characters: Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist is a finance journalist and publisher of Millenium Magazine. He has been disgraced after being convicted of printing an erroneous article on Hans-Erik Wennerström, a Swedish industrialist. Salandar is a young woman who does not fit well into modern Swedish society. Despite being a legal adult, she is still under the guardianship of the state because she has refused to participate in testing throughout her childhood. She is a loner but she has an extraordinary ability to research individuals. Despite her antisocial and sometimes violent behavior, she is invaluable to Dragan Armanskij, her boss at Milton Security.

DragonTattooBlomkvist and Salander have no connection to one another until Henrik Vanger, the retired CEO of Vanger Corporation hires Milton Security to do a background check on Blomkvist. He wants to hire him to investigate the 40-year-old disappearance of his niece Harriet and does so after Salander provides her report. Given Blomkvist’s recent trouble with Wennerström, he steps down from Millenium and has little choice but to accept Vanger’s offer, even though he doesn’t believe that he will be able to solve the mystery. Vanger’s fee and his promise to provide Blomkvist with the information he needs to nail Wennerström sweeten the deal. Blomkvist and Salander’s paths don’t actually cross until Blomkvist discovers how Salander performed her research on him. He is on to something in the Vanger case and he discovers that he needs her help to solve the mystery.

I cannot adequately express how much I got involved with this novel. The first chapter about Blomkvist’s trial and its outcome, while interesting, did not betray how enticing the novel would become the moment that Lisbeth Salander appeared. She is raw, unique, and completely mysterious. She is now one of my favorite heroines, standing next to Scarlett O’Hara. Although their stories, backgrounds, and motivations are completely different, Salander and Scarlett are both utterly captivating to me. I care about what happens to them and I want them to win, whatever the cost. I want their strength and I live vicariously through their faults. Their existence on paper has enriched my life and captured my imagination. Over the years I have been contemplating Scarlett’s fate after Rhett leaves her in Atlanta (I have not and will not read a sequel to Gone with the Wind without Margaret Mitchell). I have a feeling that when it’s all said and done (praise God there are two more installments of Salander’s story written by the same author!), I will continue to think about Salander in the same way.

I listened to this novel in audio and I believed that this enhanced my experience. I am not familiar with Swedish names and now, even knowing how they are pronounced, I know I would have stumbled over them in the text (many thanks to Wikipedia for providing the names of the main characters). Simon Vance is an incredible narrator and he made it all come alive for me. He does a wonderful job incorporating different voices for both male and female characters and his tone was simply perfect throughout. There were times I laughed out loud listening to the story and I know that was because of the combination of the translation by Reg Keeland and Vance’s brilliant reading.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first novel in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. There is no doubt that I will be reading this entire series. Given that Simon Vance is narrating the second installment that was just published in July, The Girl Who Played with Fire, I’ll be listening to that on audio. The last installment is The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I’m not normally a person who reads novels in series. I still have not read Harry Potter or Twilight, but this is one series I stand behind entirely. My only reservation for suggesting The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to everyone I know is that it contains content that might be offensive to others, such as adult language, violence, and discussion of graphic sex (including binding and torture). Although not pervasive throughout the entire novel, there is enough of it that I think it should be noted.

I’m saddened that Stieg Larsson died before his Millennium Trilogy was published, but I’m so thankful that he left them behind. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a rare treasure.

To buy this novel in print, click here.
You can also download the audiobook through Audible.com.  There are three narrators.  I strongly suggest choosing Simon Vance.

Tattoo-You Contest in honor of Stieg Larsson

StiegLarssonI was one of the lucky 250 bloggers chosen in Knopf’s contest to get a hard cover copy of The Girl Who Played with Fire and some cool temporary dragon tattoos (similar to the one I used in my review) to give as prizes for a Tattoo-You Contest in honor of Stieg Larsson.  I have the copy of the book and am waiting for the temporary tattoos.  As soon as they are in my possession so I understand exactly what the prizes are, I will be hosting a contest.  Please keep coming back for more information.  I’m really excited to be able to host this contest and hope to have my review of The Girl Who Played with Fire ready to coincide with it.

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  • At 2009.08.06 16:22, Sandy said:

    Things aren’t interesting unless they have language, violence and sex…bring it on! (Just kidding, sort of!) I think I’m the only person that hasn’t read this book yet, and I’m STILL excited about the second installment. I’m off right now to see if the library carries it on audio. If not, I’m headed for the Kindle, where it sits on my “Save for Later” list!

    • At 2009.08.06 16:25, Sandy said:

      OK, I am locked and loaded. Ordered it from the library to be received within a week or so!

      • At 2009.08.06 16:31, Kathy said:

        I got The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for Christmas last year and haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I’m really anxious to, though because I want to get The Girl Who Played with Fire. They both sound so wonderful to me!

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        • At 2009.08.06 17:02, Jo-Jo said:

          Thanks for the review…I’ve been seeing this book pop up all over the place and sure does sound good. I can usually look past the sex and violence if the writing is good and the story is engaging.

          • At 2009.08.06 17:21, rhapsodyinbooks said:

            That’s so funny – just this morning I was contemplating Scarlett and Rhett’s fate – I don’t know why, it just pops into my head every year or so! But I’m with you – I won’t read that sequel!

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            • At 2009.08.06 18:30, lilly said:

              I really, really need to finally read this book. I have yet to find one person to have something negative to say about it so I guess there isn’t much.

              • At 2009.08.06 19:08, bookworm said:

                I’ve heard nothing but good things about this one! great review.

                • At 2009.08.06 19:32, caite said:

                  I guess the release of ‘The Girl Who Played With Fire’ is getting a lot of people interested in the first book in the series again. As they should be!! I agree it was a very good book.

                  I won a copy of The Girl Who Played with Fire, so I had to buy the first one to read before I began it and just posted my own review.
                  Now I must get the second book’s review written…. 😉

                  • At 2009.08.06 20:18, Jennifer said:

                    Sandy, you are going to love it!

                    Kathy, what are you waiting for? LOL!

                    Jo-Jo, the sex, etc… is driven by the story and is not gratuitous. I think you’ll enjoy it.

                    Rhapsody, my thoughts are – I have a great imagination and if I can conjure up what happens next for Rhett and Scarlett, why do I need to read what someone (who is not the author, of course) thinks?

                    Lilly, the “worst” thing I can say about this book is that it starts off a little slow before Lisbeth, but she comes into the picture in the second or third chapter.

                    Thanks, Bookworm!

                    Caite, I can’t wait for your review of The Girl Who Plays with Fire! I haven’t even started it and I’m excited about the third book.

                    • At 2009.08.06 22:09, softdrink said:

                      I know what you mean about names. I’m currently reading The Earth Hums in B Flat and the Welsh names are giving me fits! I need a Welsh pronunciation guide.

                      • At 2009.08.07 03:18, Reg Keeland said:

                        Hi Jennifer, thanks for the kind words on my translation and glad you could find a laugh or two in the book. I haven’t heard the Vance version yet, so I’m looking forward to it.

                        Sandy, why wait, the Kindle edition is selling for $7.99, same as the mass market.

                        • At 2009.08.07 05:05, Veens said:

                          This was my fav from last year reads! It was so cool. Can you believe this is the only book I read all through night and finished it :D!

                          I read somewhere that there were suposed to be 10 books in this series. I was really shocked to learn about the author, but I am glad they transleted everything!

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                          • At 2009.08.07 08:32, Cathy said:

                            I’m glad you’ve fallen in love with Lisbeth Salander because I know I certainly have. I’ve reviewed both of Larsson’s books, and since the third is about to come out in the UK, I’ll probably be ordering it soon!

                            • At 2009.08.07 12:42, Alyce said:

                              This one has been on my list for a while now. Everyone I know seems to have given it a good review.

                              • At 2009.08.07 13:14, Nicole said:

                                Thanks for the great review! I want to read this book soooo badly. It sounds really good!

                                • At 2009.08.07 22:15, Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said:

                                  I’ve been seeing more reviews of this and the sequel … must get to THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO sooner than later. Thanks for another recommendation!

                                  • At 2009.08.08 08:08, Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) said:

                                    This is one of the only books I’ve bought in hardcover in the last year. I loved the premise and early reviews of this novel, and yet somehow, it sits on my shelf unread. I think your review has pushed it further to the top of my list. I really was sad to learn that the author died before the series was published, but these seem to be a great testament to his life.

                                    I look forward to the future review of The Girl Who Played With Fire and the dragon tattoo giveaway.

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                                    • At 2009.08.12 17:57, unlikelyaristotle said:

                                      How odd! I got this book as part of a birthday present and I kind of cringed at it. I’m a bookcover-judger 🙁

                                      I just assumed it was going to be some kind of teenagery book and put it towards the end of my long list of to-read books. Guess I’ll be bumping it up one or ten notches!! Thanks!!!

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                                      • At 2009.08.12 22:30, Reg Keeland said:

                                        Aristotle, just remember the words of the immortal Bo Diddley: “You can’t judge a woman by looking at her mother.” Which cover do you have, US or UK?

                                        • At 2009.08.13 22:43, Jennifer said:

                                          Reg, wow! Thank you so much for leaving comments here! I would love to hear more about what it has been like translating these novels. I am sure that the other narrator did a wonderful job, but Simon Vance’s version is the one I pulled from Audible and I have absolutely no regrets. I wish that there was some way I could get a clip of it to play on my blog. What a great talent he is. I have his version of The Girl Who Played with Fire on my MP3 player right now. I’m locked and loaded. 🙂

                                          Aristotle, Serena, Dawn, Alyce, Nicole ~ I cannot wait until you read this book!!!! I’ll be sure to read your reviews.

                                          • At 2009.08.13 22:57, S. Krishna said:

                                            I think “addicting” is the perfect word to describe this novel. Great review!

                                            • […] I mentioned earlier when I posted my review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I was one of the 150 lucky bloggers  given the opportunity by […]

                                              • At 2009.08.14 09:55, carol said:

                                                I really enjoyed this one, too. I’ve got the Girl Who Played with Fire sitting on my shelf and I can’t wait to get to it.

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                                                  • At 2009.08.17 06:46, Dragon Tattoo Art said:

                                                    I just assumed it was going to be some kind of teenagery book and put it towards the end of my long list of to-read books. Guess I’ll be bumping it up one or ten notches!! Thanks you!!!

                                                    • […] #186 ~ The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (literatehousewife.com) […]

                                                      • At 2009.08.30 14:17, Caitlin said:

                                                        I stumbled upon this review after finishing THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO because I loved it so much, and I wanted to see if others loved it as much as I did. I’m glad to see that I’m not alone!

                                                        I agree that Lisbeth Salander is one of the most compelling characters I’ve come across in a long time. The way Larsson wrote her character was so satisfying to me it was practically primal. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.

                                                        (BTW, I love this blog. I’m adding you to my RSS reader right now!)

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                                                            • At 2010.06.21 06:02, Why Audiobooks? : literatehousewife.com said:

                                                              […] that, I listened to audiobooks on and off haphazardly.  It wasn’t until I started listening to The Girl With the Dragon Tattoothat things changed.  Once Lisbeth Salander arrived on the scene, I had the insatiable desire to […]

                                                              • […] when I looked into and joined Audible.com.  Even then, it wasn’t until I got hooked on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Simon Vance’s narration that listening to audiobooks morphed from something I only did […]

                                                                • […] reading challenge involving Simon Vance was truly inevitable from the first moment I started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That listen led to another and another until last year’s Audiobook Week interview. Since […]

                                                                  • […] if it can in fact be called a performance – was colored by the audiobook that preceded it, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Having now read many Simon Vance audiobooks, I know just how high he sets the bar. Still, […]

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