When I first announced my intention to read these books, the reactions of you lot ranged from 'oh yeah, I've never read them either' to 'OH MY GOD, DON'T DO IT!' and this was not what I was expecting because have you SEEN the praise heaped on these books? 'Best thriller in years', they said. 'Unmissable', they also implied. Obviously I'm just paraphrasing here, because these books have now been graciously rehomed in various charity shops, but that's basically the gist of it.
So what did I think? Something in the middle, I guess. There was a lot I haaaaated about them (and I mean really and truly hated. Abhorred. Couldn't even stand) but there were also things that made me think they weren't so bad, after all. I think it's important to note also that I read them in packing breaks, when I probably wouldn't have been able to focus on a book with even the slightest bit of smartness to it (sorry, Steig) so that has to be taken into account of the things I thought about them.
I'm going to do a teeny review of each book at the end (because, you know, I know you were all worried that wasn't going to happen) but here are a few generals:
- I kind of love Lisbeth Salander- She's probably not a great role model or anything, but she's without a doubt the most interesting character in the books, and she's flawed and broken in a way that women characters aren't often allowed to be. It's worth noting that a lot of the other characters are super one-dimensional, so Lisbeth really stands out as especially interesting, but whatever. I basically just wanted to read about her doing stuff.
- I kind of really hate Mikael Blomkvist- Ok, I didn't to begin with. He's fine as a character, a bit boring and plot-moving on-ish, but his heart's basically in the right place, and his morals align with mine and whatnot. BUT. I hate him. I haaaaaate him. He is the laziest written character because he has no flaws, and (most annoyingly) every woman he ever meets wants to have sex with him. There is literally not a female character he comes across who doesn't want to have sex with him, and by the third book, it was just like 'oh, you've just introduced a single female character? I WONDER WHO SHE'LL BE BONING NEXT CHAPTER!' No good reason is given for Blomkvist being catnip for women, and it freaks me out that Larsson probably basically wrote him as wish fulfilment for himself. But UGH.
- But the feminism, though- So the Swedish title of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is actually The Men Who Hate Women (bit different, then) and I think the way the books were marketed* over here actually says a lot about us, but the point is that there is a LOT about the men who hate women. There's a whole lot. There are sexual harassment subplots, and countless attacks against women, and it's made crystal clear that this shit is NOT OK. Which, obviously, I appreciate, even whilst I was shocked that shit like this happens in Sweden, because if Sweden isn't safe for women, then what do we have?!
- That writing, though- It's not the best writing. For the most part it's readable, but a lot of the dialogue is really bad, and I honestly believe that about half of the third book should have just been edited right away. Just... No. I don't know if I can blame some of it on the translation, or if it just is genuinely bad writing, but beautiful prose is not something you're going to find in these books. Just... In case that's what you were expecting.
So far, this seems like I'm pretty evenly for and against it, BUT my hatred for Blomkvist really outweighs my love for Salander (I haaaaaate him!) and I don't know if the clearly female-positive story lines are enough to balance out the really bad writing. I just don't know how I feel, so let's look at each book individually shall we? ('Oh yes, lets!', I hear you cry)
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
This was definitely my favourite of the three books, because it was a fairly self-contained story and it was fun trying to solve the mystery of the girl who disappeared from an island that was impossible to get off of secretly. Less fun were the parts with the rapes, but I feel like they weren't really gratuitous and were really there to serve the story. There was, however, a lot of unnecessarily complicated economic crap, including this 20 page section right near the beginning of the book that I'd imagine has tripped up nearly everyone who's read it. Note to writers: DON'T put a boring, rambling crap part right at the start of your book, what is wrong with you?! And then a similar thing happened at the end- the interesting part of the story was solved about 100 pages from the end, and then somehow the crap part was back and whyyyyy? But, overall, I liked it? So, I moved on to:
The Girl Who Played With Fire
I didn't dislike The Girl Who Played With Fire. I mean, sure it starts off with about 100 pages of things that have nothing to do with the story (seriously, was there an editor of these books? Because it sure as shit didn't feel like it) and sure there are loads of convenient last minute rescues and things when Larsson didn't want to kill a character off, but there was a lot more Salander! And eventually (and I mean, after literally hundreds of pages) you get to the crux of Salander's childhood, and that was kind of (hmm... very kind-of) worth waiting for. Plus it's all actiony and fairly exciting and I'd come this far so I figured, might as well read:
The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets' Nest
Annnnnd, what a mistake that was. This book had pretty much nothing to it. All The Things kind of get solved at the end of The Girl Who Played With Fire, and THIS book is pretty much Mikael Blomkvist showing how much smarter he is than A WHOLE TEAM OF MEN and also having sex with yet more women (obviously). Don't get me wrong, Salander still manages to solve a lot of her problems, and everyone else's, for that matter, but there are a LOT of pages for NOTHING new to happen in (I mean, stuff happens. But it basically just wraps up the second book. In SEVEN HUNDRED PAGES. God.) But, I mean, I kept reading it, so... Can it have been that bad? Maybe not.
Ha, remember when I said I was going to 'review' each of the books separately? Obviously I meant, 'tell you my feels about each of them' because reviewing? What's that?! But anyway. The crux of the matter is this: I'm pretty glad to have gotten these out of the way, and I'm really glad I read them before I moved so I didn't have to lug them up all the stairs. They're absolutely not the best books in the world, and I wouldn't want to read them again, but they did keep me entertained at a time when I didn't think I wanted to read anything, AND (and this is really important) if there was another book (and I believe there were supposed to be quite a few more) I'm pretty sure I've have read that one too. So. Take from that what you will.
Oh man, a whole post about Swedish books, and look what I nearly forgot!
It's ok. All is well now.
*for 'marketed', read 'the way they changed the title and that'
hey nice post meh, I love your style of blogging here. this post reminds me of an equally interesting post that I read some time ago on Daniel Uyi's blog: Know It All About Dating .ReplyDelete
keep up the good work friend. I will be back to read more of your posts.
I never got past book 1, because ugh so boring. I mean there was interesting stuff in there (like the missing person case) but it needed like another year of rewrites to make it readable. When everyone was up in arms about the rapes etc I was more upset that I had to read that economic garbage. Bleh out of meh.ReplyDelete
The movies are much better though, they edit out so much of the unnecessary stuff.
I can totally imagine that the movies are pretty good- the English version (of which there is only one movie) also involves Papa Skarsgard, so that's always good hahaha.Delete
The economic stuff is sooooo boring. Practically everyone I've spoken to about them are like 'I tried to read them, but I got bored really near the beginning' and I'm just like 'I know the EXACT place you got bored' because, yup. Boring.
The US version is actually kind of amazing, it's like the book was draft 1, Swedish film was draft 2, and the US film was the slimmed down version. Although I think the Swedish cast might edge out the US cast by a smidge.Delete
Interesting fact, I saw the American film at 9pm and there was a 4 y.o sitting two rows in front of me. Kid started crying almost immediately, which was hardly surprising. Parents can be dumb.
Oooooooh, interesting! On all counts. I kind of dislike Daniel Craig so I haven't been that bothered about seeing that film, but if you say it's good... Hmmm!Delete
I can't even deal with that information. I mean, just seriously, WHAT?! Ridiculous.
I've never read these books...don't really plan on it either, ha! Some of the buzz books are worth it and some are just meh. It sounds like these fell on the meh side of things ;)ReplyDelete
Yeah, I'm definitely going to let you skip these! But if you're in the middle of a stressful thing and don't want to make your brain work too hard, then these are the books for you!Delete
I liked your post waaaay better than I liked the first book. Which...just...bleeeech. And SO BORING. Maybe because I also hated Bloomkvist so anything he did I really couldn't care less about, to the point that I didn't even care if the mystery got solved. I do disagree about the rapes, at least in the first book (assuming there were more in the others) cos I thought they were def gratuitous. I didn't think they advanced the plot and I thought it was a cheap shortcut to character development (without having to actually do any character development)ReplyDelete
Hehehehe, why thank you! I haaaaaaaaated Blomkvist, dude. SO MUCH. But I *did* care about the mystery enough to keep reading, and then I got all 'Lisbeth! Why are you so awesome?' because I like her a lot.Delete
I disagree with your disagreement though- I mean... That rape very much did advance the plot (posssssibly in the second and third books rather than the first one...) but I don't think it was in there as a thing just to shock, it was more making the point about a messed up system of guardianship and also of the ways men exert their power over women (the men who hate women) and yeah.
I will concede the rapes in later books might have advanced the plot because I haven't read those so who knows. But in the first one I think not so much that there was a rape but the brutality of it was there for shock valueDelete
I'm not sure that there even are any rapes in the later books... But I meant that THAT rape has plot movement forwardy bits in the next two books. Or at least Bjurman does, and what he's done is a thing and there is all stuff. And things, obviously.Delete
I only read the first book.I thought it was waaaay too long. Want to read the others... but also don't... maybe I'll listen to it in audio?ReplyDelete
Haaaa, if you thought the first book was long, you should try the third! (Only don't, because, you know. Bleugh.) I wouldn't worry about the others, maybe just read the summaries of them on Wikipedia or something? Would have worked for me, tbh!Delete
I just skimmed most of this as I've only read the first one. It's kind of disappointing that this was your favourite as that means I've already read the best of the series!ReplyDelete
Well... That's only my opinion! You might enjoy the MADNESS of the next two! (Seriously, it does all get a bit mental.) I think I just liked the first one best because it was the most kind of straightforward murder-mystery-ish. The next two are slightly... Not that.Delete
Yes!!!!!!!! The economic part in the beginning of the first one was the reason why I put it down. I'm not saying I'm not interested but it seemed to be thrown in and there was much confusion. Everyone I knew was shocked I wasn't reading them but I was shocked that they were. Cheers to you for actually knocking out all three!ReplyDelete
I think the thing with books like this is that they're the kind of books that people who DON'T read a lot end up reading, whereas people who do read a lot go 'wow, I hear those suck, I really don't want to read them when I have a zillion other books to read.' Bestsellers, man. But anyway- you're not missing too much with these, but they definitely kept me occupied when I didn't want to be packing, and that was all I wanted at the time!Delete
"I think the thing with books like this is that they're the kind of books that people who DON'T read a lot end up reading."Delete
Me and my madre were discussing this the other day, where there are certain books that shitloads of people read because they're popular. Those people don't necessarily read much when they're anywhere except on holiday, so they think these books are amazeballs and 500 glowing reviews appear. THEN the hardcore readers think, "Oooh, this looks awesome" and read them, and realise they're actually a bit crap. THEN AND ONLY THEN DOES BALANCE RETURN.
I still haven't read these books, but they're on Le TBR (3 languages in 1 comment, I am so multilingual) so I WILL. Just... not yet. *wanders off aimlessly*
*highfive* for finishing all three! I only made it about 1/4 of the way through the first one….ReplyDelete
Hey, nice work even getting that far! I... Can totally see how someone wouldn't.Delete
I had to stop reading the first one, like, in the MIDDLE of the big rape scene, because good fuck. That was horrible. I think I likes the third one best because of all the wrapping up? And was there even a rape in that one? There must have been.ReplyDelete
Also, Lisbeth is definitely awesome.
It was a totally horrible rape, don't get me wrong. But that was sort of the point? I guess... I reaaaaally hated the third one because nothing happened, dude! I didn't even feel like the second one needed wrapping up, honestly! I would have happily accepted a third book that was like, a new story. I don't *think* there was a rape in that one though..?Delete
Lisbeth ftw. She is a genuinely good character. But it helps that the others all suck haha
I got the same responses when I told buddies that I was going to read the series - and so they are still sitting in my TBR pile. This is a marathon that I intend to get through, so kudos for finishing them!ReplyDelete
It's ok not to read them though... Or just read them when your brain feels a tiny bit too smart for bad tv (not good tv. Good tv is MUCH better than these.) and won't mind so much that they're really badly written...Delete
You are hysterical with your Skarsgard gifs.ReplyDelete
These sound like a lot of the super popular series out - not great writing, lots of issues, but entertaining enough that they make good brain candy. And sometimes brain candy is a thing you really need.
Personally I think we should give Laura a round of applause for getting through an entire Swedish-themed post with only ONE Skars-GIF. *claps cheerfully* :PDelete