Thats right folks, I finally finished the damn book! I’m so proud of me. Anyway, if you aren’t already I recommend following me on Twitter since my internet usage and laptop usage is very shady and I obviously haven’t gotten many posts up (hooray for work!). Follow me on Twitter on @1NerdyCupcake
Now, onto the review!
I decided I was going to read this book after reading all of these rave reviews, and people telling me left and right how amazing it was, and how it changed their life.
How this book could change anyone’s life is beyond me, but hey, lets just go with the flow here.
I have officially decided that this book needs a warning label: Takes 250 pages before something finally happens and it gets interesting.
I should probably state that this is all pure opinion here. I’m not telling you not to read it, it just wasn’t my cup of tea. Also that I am not withholding spoilers, as this book has been out for a while now and should basically be known. If you are planning on reading this book, I would suggest not reading further. Continuing…
I don’t know much about financial journalism, or in general, stocks and brokers…anything taught outside of basic high school economics classes. This probably brought issues to my actual interest in the book, since its not something I actively seek out to read about in the first place. I know that large corporations are scum and we are more controlled by that then the government, but honestly outside of marketing and the fact that we are brainwashed since birth I don’t really get all the financial backing of it. So the first 250 pages that this all centers around, not what I’m interested in. Does it have background into what is to come, sure. But honestly, it isn’t the real story to me.
The real story centers around Lisbeth Salander, a girl by description reminds me of my younger sister. She is a private investigator of sorts, and is branded mentally incompetent by the country of Sweden. Not only is Lisbeth brilliant, she is also has a violent spiteful side that isn’t to be toyed with. During the beginning of the book you only get small glimpses into the life of Salander, which was a fantastic move by author Stieg Larson. Honestly, if he hadn’t done that I probably would have given up on the novel before it even began. You don’t start to see the connection between the two characters, Mikael “Kalle” Blomkvist outside of you know she was the PI on a project for Frode Dirche and Henrik Vanger, who comes to hire Blomkvist.
I should mention at this point as well, Mikael is who the first 250 pages is about. He is a journalist found guilty of libel against a mega corporation in Sweden called Wennerstrom. He is known as a brilliant journalist and co-founder of the Millennium, with his lover Erika Berger. He is hired by Henrik Vanger and Frode Dirche after this sentence is passed to write an autobiography of Henrik Vanger and to solve a mystery, in which I will get into further below. Mikeal is a ladies man, very stubborn, and before the trial seemed to be quite full of himself. When he was found guilty you can almost read the life washing out of him. Unfortunately, this wasn’t portrayed well (or at least in my opinion) it just seemed you could tell by Erika’s reaction by him taking the job from Henrik.
The beginning of the novel is an old man receives a flower in a package marked from Stockholm. It is pressed and framed. He hangs the flower on the wall, next to 43 other flowers in order by year. It is his birthday, and after he hangs the flower, he cries. You don’t know anything else about this little scene that starts the story until we get those 250 pages in. Fun, right?
As I have previously mentioned, Henrik Vanger hires Mikael to write his autobiography and solve a mystery. The mystery is the disappearance of his niece, Harriet Vanger. You are then introduced to a whole series of Vangers, who is, coincidentally, all called Vanger, which proves to be a slightly challenging task to decipher which Vanger is exactly being talked about at any given point. Cecelia, Anita, Harriet and Isabelle are the only ones who are referred to in their first name regularly, and I believe is is just because they are all women. Martin, Gottfried, Henrik and the others are consistently just referred to as Vanger. Yes, this is extremely annoying, especially when more than one are present in the scene. Anyway, Henrik is convinced that 44 years ago his niece, whom he was extremely close with, was murdered and the murderer was taunting him by sending him those pressed flowers every year for his birthday, which was something that Harriet did for him. The details surrounding Harriet’s murder is extensive, and I won’t list them all here, but thing is Harriet’s body is never found, there wasn’t even a trace of her left on the small private island that she disappears from. These facts is what has tormented Henrik for the past 44 years, and wants closure before he dies. He is of old age and has come to terms with the fact that he may die without knowing what happened, but hiring Mikael is his final hurrah into trying to figure out what happened to his beloved niece.
Mikael begins researching into the project, mainly focusing on Harriet because it is Henrik’s wishes. Neither party has any actual hope on uncovering more information, but as I’m sure you’ve figured out, Mikael does. He eventually has uncovered so much information that he needs help, in which Frode Dirche recommends the use of Lisabeth Salander. And we have come full circle.
During the period Mikael begins his journey into the world of the Vanger, Lisabeth has been raped by her guardian and seeks vengence. While her initial feeling is to kill her guardian, she settles on blackmailing him. Despite the rest of the story not being completely well written, Stieg did manage to give Salander quite the voice, even though she rarely speaks. As I have said previously, Salander is the best character in this novel, regardless of the fact she is (in my opinion) not used enough.
I don’t think the problem with this novel was my lack of understanding in the financial journalism world, or even my issues with how the Vangers were written. I think my problem was that it was too easy. Once you get past the very surface of the Vangers, you can see exactly where the story is headed. I found the ending of the Harriet mystery predictable, and just an easy ending to a long story. You never really connect with the Blomkvist character, while you feel for him you don’t really care about him. Salander was the outstanding one in the novel, which the title is based off of, but she isn’t used enough to base the feeling of caring as well. In the end, the novel was a very long drawn out story that took me no less than 5 tries to read since I could not get past the first 250 pages. Will I read the next book in the series? Probably…I hate leaving series unfinished. Am I in a rush to get the next book? Not even a little. But who knows, maybe with the characters established now the next book will be more enjoyable.