Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Book 29 - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
For months I stared at the cover of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, debating whether or not to take the plunge.
It's an intimidating book. In size alone. At more than 800 pages, Stieg Larrson's novel weighs about three pounds. The chapters are long-ish, the type small-ish. I admit, I wasn't sure I could commit.
The year is dwindling away and I'd only completed 28 books in my 100 Books in 2010 challenge. Could I realistically fit this tome into my schedule?
At a giant book sale, I found a perfect copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo for a $1. Somehow, it then landed at the TOP of my TBR pile. I read the first chapter - and more than a week later, I'm proud to say I've completed all 835 pages.
Though not without struggle.
That isn't to say the book isn't good. Larrson created cmemorable and compelling characters, not at all cardboard-cutouts. Of particular note, of course, IS the girl with the dragon tattoo, who kind of reminds me of Lara Croft without the cliche. She's a tough chick with a crappy past and some mad skills, though somewhat illegal.
Lisbeth Salander is (eventually) paired up with Mikael Blomkvist, a disgraced journalist who is hired by an eccentric Swedish businessman to try and solve the mysterious disappearance of his niece 40 years earlier. There are several other story lines as well - and happily, they're woven together in a way that makes sense.
Although I enjoyed the book, the strength of its success (in my opinion) is Lisbeth. Near the end of the book, I found myself wanting to skip through Blomkvist's point of view so I could see what happens to Lisbeth next - and sadly, I found the final scene with her a bit disappointing. That being said, I understand the second book in the series is primarily about her, an equally as intimidating novel, but one I will definitely read...at some point.
After finishing the book last night, I thought "sleeping on it" would help me decide how I truly feel about it. I'm still undecided.
The first 100 pages or so were difficult - the book was translated from Swedish and it took some time to get used to the names (long and difficult to pronounce), the word choices, the spelling. And in the first few chapters, there are large paragraphs about a Swedish financial conspiracy that are important but make for rather dry reading.
But then there were giant portions of the book that mesmerized me. Rich character development, exciting twists of plot, and a unique writing style propelled me through the middle of the novel. To be honest, I even dreamed about Lisbeth and Mikael on more than one occasion.
And then...things teetered off again. I struggled through the last 200 pages.
I can't even say the book should be "X" number of pages shorter because I wouldn't even know where to cut. And while there doesn't seem to be any padding to the text, many scenes lack the sensory detail that would help to provide a better sense of place. Could I describe Sweden to you? No. But I could tell you the innermost secrets of Lisbeth and Mikael as though I'd known them my whole life.
Which is why I couldn't have stopped reading the book if I'd tried.
The Book In My Bag Today: Imitation in Death, J.D. Robb