** 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.
Blomkvist 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.
Tattoo-You Contest in honor of Stieg Larsson
I 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.