Now that my semester has started and I’ve front-loaded my course load again, I’ve barely had time to think about posting!
Mild spoilers – no plot revelations or anything.
I finished reading The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson, and found out that the original Swedish title is actually Men Who Hate Women, which makes more sense to me. I guess Men Who Hate Women wouldn’t have sold well in North America, but it certainly suits the book more.
The book really does argue against misogyny, but in order to do so there are some brutally misogynist characters and the whole book is based around sexual violence. That was really difficult for me. There are some graphic scenes that I couldn’t bring myself to read word for word, and descriptions of death scenes that were gruesome. They went beyond the usual “murder suspect found dead, stab wound.” The more I think about gender issues, the more sensitized I am to issues about sexual violence, so this book sat very heavily with me.
As a mystery thriller, it is a great book. It’s suspenseful, fast-pasted, and full of details for the intelligent reader. I loved the set-up of the complex mystery that Blomkvist, the main character, is hired to solve. Blomkvist, a journalist, becomes tangled in the very complicated family affairs of the Vanger family. “Complicated” is an understatement, really. Forty years ago, a 16-year-old Harriet Vanger disappeared off the island where the family estate is located. Her devastated uncle, Henrik Vanger, has been traumatized by her disappearance and has decided to re-open the cold case. It is a “closed-room” case, because on the day of Harriet’s disappearance, the bridge that connects the island to the mainland was closed off. Everyone on the island that day – numerous family members and other people who live on the island – are suspects. And there are a lot of skeletons in the family closet.
So the mystery part of the story was pretty fascinating to me, but some other parts weren’t. It’s not that I’m warning people off reading this novel – it just ended up being a lot darker than I expected.
Stieg Larsson, who passed away in 2004, was a journalist against white power, racism, and right wing politics.