Friday, July 29, 2011

Excellent Reads: Stieg Larsson's "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"

Good news! Due to the fact I am on a reading kick, I felt I would present my blog with a double dose of "Excellent Reads" for the month of July. For readers like myself, we've had a lot to go through this month, the announcement of the closing of all Borders everywhere in particular. I feel that readers everywhere who enjoyed going to Borders, as they enjoy going to any bookstore, should get some mercy and what better way to give them mercy. The best way to kick it up a notch is by recommending an excellent read. That excellent read happens to be The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, which is the first of the Millennium Trilogy written by the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson. While this was supposed to be a series of ten books, Larsson died while working on the fourth novel. Nonetheless, this series starts out really well and kicks off a literary phenomenon.

Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist who reports for the Millennium magazine, who have been accused of libel involving industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerstrom. Blomkvist decides to take the prison sentence to avoid fighting the situation head-on, but Henrik Vanger wants to strike a deal. In exchange for some grimy information about Wennerstrom and a ton of money, Vanger wants Blomkvist to help him seek the truth about his niece, Harriet, and how she disappeared back in 1966. Blomkvist moves into the Vanger estate and learns more and more about the family. From who's who, what kind of personality they have, what role they play in the family, and most of all... do any of them have anything to do with the disappearance of Harriet Vanger???

Meanwhile, Lisbeth Salander is a computer hacker and a misfit. She has dyed black hair, many piercings, and many tattoos. The dragon tattoo happens to be on her shoulder blade. Her childhood, school days, and life up to this event continue to be a living hell. She is a rebel who ignores directions and isolates herself from social interaction. She's been arrested a few times before and is under guardianship. However, she frees herself with her most recent guardian who wants to use her for his personal pleasures. After hacking into Blomkvist's computer, he wants her to help him complete the case. The two of them enter an adventure that involves the Vanger dynasty and all of the details in between.

I really like Lisbeth Salander's role in the novel. She is a social misfit who is a genius when it comes to computers and completing her job. When she's doing what she's good at, it's a completely different life for her. Blomkvist believes that this is because she has Asperger's syndrome, which I could honestly agree could be a possibility. She could very well have many mental conditions, but Asperger's syndrome could very well be one of them. Social complications with an area of extreme intelligence usually equals Asperger's. I find it to be very interesting that this featured as a possibility in this novel for Salander and directly so (not high functioning autism or "a mental condition"). Simply put, Lisbeth Salander stands out as one of the most memorable characters in modern day literature.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was originally called Men Who Hate Women when it was released in Sweden, as the novel revolved around several instances in which men would be committing harmful acts against women. Any kind of harmful act is frowned up in society, but men hurting women has really been frowned upon, which would in turn bring in the discussion of gender role. It doesn't really matter, because Salander takes many juicy opportunities to put some abusive men in their place. She has the last word in these circumstances. Keep that in mind when you're reading, because that's all I'm going to tell you. This is a ongoing theme.

I like this series already. It's not perfect, but like all great things in life, nothing is perfect. As far as I'm concerned, I was entertained, thus it was perfect enough for me. You have to take your time reading this novel, as important details can go right over your head. Just take your time, enjoy, and have a great experience. This is sure a landmark in this era of literature.

The entire Millennium trilogy has been filmed in Sweden and is now filming in America. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo will premiere in theaters on December 21st, starring Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist, Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, Christopher Plummer as Henrik Vanger, among many others. Daniel Craig and Christopher Plummer have already established themselves as great actors, but if Rooney Mara (who had a role in The Social Network last year) executes Lisbeth Salander well, she could very well become a household name and make Salander into a highlight staple in the cinema.

Completing the first novel, I can confirm a few things. I will be reading the next two novels (The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest), I will be seeing the first film in theaters when it comes out on December 21st, I will suggest the series to those who ask about it, I will suggest the series to those even if they haven't asked about it, and most of all... The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is an excellent read!

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