S.G. Browne

Fiction Friday – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

First of all, I need to make something clear.

I don’t love most of the books I read. If we’re giving one to five stars to books, with five for Loved It, four for Really Liked It, three for Liked It, two for Didn’t Like It, and one for Hated It, the majority of the books I read fall into the Liked It category. Three stars. It takes a lot to get four stars from me. And even more to get five stars.

Now, with all of that said, you’re probably expecting five stars for Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Well, that’s not going to happen. I liked it, so it gets three stars. Why not more? Let me elaborate.

First of all, nothing happens for the first two-hundred pages. Nothing. It’s all back story. Yes, I know it was integral to the plot, but I like my exposition peppered into the narrative, not given to me all in one big chunk. By the time I hit page 200, I was wondering how this book became a best seller because I couldn’t imagine anyone continuing to read it. After all, most people I know have a 50-100 page rule. If the book hasn’t delivered anything by then, it’s on to the next one.

But I stuck with it because I wanted to find out what all the fuss was about. And then things finally started to happen. Lots of things. I became intrigued and compelled to keep reading. The characters became interesting. The story got darker and more complex. I wanted to know what happened next. And when it ended, I was happy I hadn’t given up.

That said, I’m not compelled to read the rest of the trilogy. I don’t care enough about the characters to find out what happens next. I know a lot of people love crime thrillers, but I’m not a big fan of them. And to be honest, I didn’t find the writing particularly inspired. It might have been the translation from Swedish to English, but if I’m going to read something similar, I’m much more likely to pick up a Raymond Chandler novel or something by James Ellroy. I find their style of writing much more enjoyable to read.

All in all, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is definitely worth reading. But as for the other two books in the trilogy, I’ll find out what happens by streaming the Swedish film versions on Netflix.

Filed under: Fiction Fridays,Movies and Books — Tags: , — S.G. Browne @ 6:52 am


  1. Thanks for this! Someone gave it to me saying they couldn’t get into it after 50 pages or so. Everyone else has loved it. I have too many great book I need to read to force myself to finish something.

    Comment by June Kramin — April 8, 2011 @ 7:23 am

  2. Yeah, I stuck with it a lot longer than usual. And I will say the book is better than the movie. A better development of the relationships between the characters and a better ending, but still not enough to get me to read the rest of the trilogy,

    Comment by admin — April 8, 2011 @ 8:05 am

  3. Thanks for your opinion on this book. I’ve wondered what the fuss was also, but I tend to judge a book by it’s opening lines, and this one didn’t pull me in with the first lines. If a book attracts my attention (by cover or someone’s review/recommendation) I will take a look at the first paragraph or two….if that doesn’t “grab me”, I’m done. That may not be a good thing, but in the long run, it has worked for me. Such was the case for your book, Breathers, which I had not heard of, saw in my library, read the first few lines & brought it home….thoroughly enjoyed it too!!

    Comment by Peggy — April 8, 2011 @ 10:11 am

  4. I think there must be something in the translation, too. I enjoyed the book, but like you didn’t love it. It just felt…off. The exposition is an outstanding observation, though. It paces so lethargically that by the time you finish it jellyfish have already evolved into squidlets. I despise slow pacing in my books.

    Comment by Eric Mays — April 8, 2011 @ 10:31 am

  5. *SPOILER* I read this because of all the fuss. I’d give it 2 stars at most. Like you said, it takes forever to get into it. The hero has women throwing themselves at him every other chapter and for no discernible reason – what IS his appeal? Also, “plucky rape survivor who refuses to be a victim and takes revenge on her attacker” shows up in crime fiction WAY too often for my taste. No offense to rape survivors, but aren’t there some other ways to damage or toughen up a female character? Another way to show her as strong? Does it always have to be rape?

    Comment by Gretchen — April 8, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

  6. Peggy: Yes, I love a good opening, too. This one didn’t have it but just kept on going. I skimmed a lot, which is never a good sign. And thanks for giving Breathers a read.

    Eric: I love the jellyfish evolution analogy. Reading this was kind of like listening to my mom tell me something that should only take sixty seconds but then she draws in extraneous details that ends up making the story five minutes long.

    Gretchen: I believe I read that the theme of rape and abuse against women in the novels stems from an incident when Larsson was 15 and saw a woman get raped and he didn’t do anything to stop it. Of course that might have been on Wikipedia, so it might be true or it might not.

    Thanks for the comments!

    Comment by admin — April 8, 2011 @ 5:28 pm

  7. just be happy you can read.

    Comment by william ward — April 8, 2011 @ 5:58 pm

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