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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Reg Keeland, Stieg Larsson The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is Lisbeth Salander, a young woman who is a product of the Swedish care system, designated incapable of looking after herself and her finances: therefore it is necessary for someone to look after them for her. Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist who has just been sued for libel and is taking a break to work on an old man's obsession about a member of his family who disappeared over 25 years ago. They will meet in strange circumstances and intrigue will rule their lives.

I read this book in a day and when that happens it means either one of two things: it was terrible and I wanted it to end or it was fantastic and I didn't want it to end, but needed it to. This falls in to the latter.

I will refrain from commenting on the writing style: Larsson wrote it in Swedish and, although the text may be a direct translation, you still can't get a hold on someone's writing ability through a translation, so I refuse to comment on that.

The most fundamental, heart-stopping brilliance of this book was that it made me angry: an anger I haven't felt for a long time. I like books that make me feel an emotion so much, regardless of which emotion it may be. It made me angry at the pathetic nature of men who cannot handle strong women. It made me angry that people think feminism is about women wanting to be "better than men". It made me incomparably angry at society as a whole.

Usually I refrain from long reviews, but there's no way I can express my love for Lisbeth is one paragraph. She is one of the few characters I've identified with for such a long time it came as an odd shock. I feel the need to clarify: I have not suffered abuse like her, my childhood was wonderful and I'm a fully(ish)functional person. Identifying with Lisbeth came through her emotional stuntedness, her social ineptitude and her sheer demonic need for privacy. Lisbeth is obviously off the scales with these, but I found myself understanding her (for the most part) in ways I have not done with most characters in most books I read. She was incredibly in-depth and so 3D I could see her clearly. The other characters were less developed in my mind, but still more 3D than most authors care to make them. I thought Blomkvist was particularly well-developed and his particularly journey was believable and tantamount to reality.

I will cease with praises, since most other people will have articulated what I'd like to say much better. Instead I will expand the reason why it only received 5-stars. My Blithe shelf is reserved for life-changing books or ones that I adored so much I re-read and quote sporadically. Will I re-read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo? Unlikely. It is a decent-enough crime thriller, though I don't see what the fuss is about these Scandinavian books being "gritty and dark". I found nothing more disgusting and dark than what I've read in Ian Rankin and Stuart MacBride novels. Whilst this book certainly made me intrigued I actually thought the plot was sub-standard at best: it was a rollicking ride, don't get me wrong, but with such characterisations and locations, I felt something more could have been done. It was brilliant and the anger I still hold in my heart has lit a fire I doubt will go out, but it was not life-changing, nor will I be quoting this book with joy. Maybe it was because it was dark and gritty, but really I don't know. It was great, brilliant, excellent, fantastic: all those words. But it just wasn't blithe.