This book was originally published under the Swedish title Män Som Hatar Kvinnor which means Men Who Hate Women by Swedish author Stieg Larsson. The Swedish title is quite telling of the repeated subject of violence against women in the book. This was a roller coaster thriller for me. In parts the pace of the book was entirely too slow, with vast amounts of history and detail to wade through before getting to some action. It seemed like every time a new character was introduced there had to be a two page history accompanying even very minor characters. But in other spots I was simply unable to put it down. It's a big story so it takes time to put it together, but when it does, buckle up. Perhaps you should schedule arriving at the middle of this book when you've got some time on your hands, and not during the week of a test (blush).
USA Today reviewed this book as “Mesmerizing...Imagine the movies of Ingmar Bergman crossed with The Silence of the Lambs.” Having never heard of Ingmar Bergman but have read several books by Thomas Harris (Red Dragon, Hannibal Rising), I was a little excited about the possibility of having a character similar to the scariest character in my experience of fiction, the Dr. Hannible “the cannibal” Lecter. Here I was disappointed. The book does have dark parts that are designed to make one cringe in disgust, but the main evil character is nothing compared to Lecter. The author adds statistics about the abuse of women in Sweden on each chapter title page, so perhaps the dark parts are to raise awareness by describing a scenario of abuse so one can experience it vicariously.
The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo is categorized as a crime novel, and honestly it is probably my first. I'm more of a science/spy/monster kinda guy. If you're not into crime like me take heart, the crime stuff just peppers the story. The real draw for me was the interesting Characters. Getting into the mind of a unique troubled young woman called Lisbeth was what made the story have that dark allure that is so inviting. She is a no-nonsense, anti-social, young skinny punk who once commonly victimized but transforms to a person who takes charge and revenge, and no longer allows herself to be a victim.
I would totally recommend this book.