I had avoided seeing the movies or reading the books in this Swedish series for many years, but when my father recommended the book on tape, I decided to give it a shot. This copy of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson is read by Simon Vance.
It took me a while to get into this book, but Simon Vance's reading really won me over which made me want to finish.
Mikael Blomkvist is an aging but charming investigative journalist who has no troubles with the ladies, but does have a tendency to be drawn into the wrong stories. Lisbeth Salander is a young and brilliant but defiant ward of the state trying to find her place in a world of men who hate women. This unlikely pair is drawn together by a 36 year old mystery and a shared passion for justice.
Having never seen the movies or read the books, I really had no idea what this book was about when I started. I vaguely knew there was a older man and younger woman in it and that she was a "goth" type. When I first started reading people told me to watch out as this book contained very violent scenes, particularly brutal violence against woman. Later my father told me the book had been originally titled Men Who Hate Woman or something to that effect. I knew that the books and movies were immensely popular, so I was surprised but this. After reading, I can say that this book is very violent, chauvinistic, misogynistic, and portray woman as stupid, lacking common sense and prone to falling to pieces over men and sex. What bothered me most about this was that Larsson, a male author, clearly thought he was writing the opposite. It seems to me as if he were trying to say how strong woman are to the best of his abilities, yet he still had woman make stupid, self harming decisions, and fall into the arms of, and in love with, any man who didn't rape them, and in turn fall to despair and spite when that love was not 100% reciprocated. Even if these men didn't rape them, it was still ok for them to bully and disrespect the woman in an appallingly casual fashion. I think Larsson completely missed the point he was trying to make. This aspect of the book infuriated me, more so than the anti woman theme itself, and I came close to stopping many times. It also made me question what aspect of the book that people liked so much. I feel sure that the parts of the story that I found to be intriguing are not what the general public liked or focused on. This book contains rape, murder, horrific violence, incest, degradation, animal cruelty and animal killing. Be warned.
The aspects of the book I did enjoy were a slow build of character, family, and mystery written in a uniquely Scandinavian style and sensibility. Simon Vance's reading was wonderful, the various voices distinct and thought out.
Overall, I have to say I cannot recommend this book and will not be reading the sequels. I'm sure many people have read this and feel differently, share your comments here!