Monday, March 28, 2016

Book Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Series: Millennium (book #1)
Publisher: Knopf
Release Date: 16th Septembe 2008 (originally 2005 in Sweden)
Read Date: 9th January 2016
Tagged Under: 2016 read, adult fiction, mystery or thriller, book review, 4

Book Summary

Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch - and there's always a catch - is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson's novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don't want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.

Book Review

I have heard about the Millenium trilogy for many years. And while I have always been meaning to pick it up, I never have in the past because mystery thrillers aren't really my cup of tea. However, I finally gave in to the temptation and took it off my bookshelf.


Beginning with the hint of something amiss when a framed flower is delivered to an old man, we begin the tale with Mikael Blomkvist at the lowest point of his journaling career. With a looming prison sentence ahead of him and the laughing stock of Sweden, he decides to escape from the busy buzz of the city and takes up an offer by an eccentric businessman. The proposal sounds intriguing: work for him for one year on a family biography and he will offer Mikael his nemesis' head on a plate. However, there is a catch - Mikael must also delve into the family secrets and try to solve a four decades old mystery.

Right from the get go, I could tell The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is not what I was expecting it to be. Everything about it is a bit different but somehow, it all worked. It read to me very much like a detective show, with a lot of cutting from one scene to another abruptly. There is a vast cast of characters from all walks of life. There are multiple concurrent storylines that eventually weave together, allowing these characters' lives to intersect. In normal day life, it will be probably hard to imagine this hodge podge cluster of characters encountering each other. However, under the strange circumstances set within this novel, it sort of worked.

Writing-wise, there is a lot of descriptive narration. A simple event such as Mikael getting up for a jog and then having breakfast at the local diner takes a good page and a half of description. This normally wouldn't work in many other novels but somehow, I didn't mind it in this novel. Instead of boring me to tears, I felt as if Stieg Larsson is presenting all the information as he sees them and it is up to the reader to catalog and filter through them for clues like a detective.

The setting is great. I haven't read too many (to be honest, I can't think of any off the top of my head) books set in Sweden. Plus, I got to learn quite a bit about Swedish history and involvement in world war II, which I didn't know about before.

However, before anyone picks up this book, I must warn you, there are a lot of confronting themes within this novel. There have been particular graphic moments where my gut instincts have been to skim ahead and I had to force myself to slowly read it through. The scenes themselves weren't too graphic but the themes they contained were. So a fair warning to you all before you start.

The overarching plotline itself is interesting. It is great but nothing mindblowing. I think The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo's success is instead built on its unique writing style, the vast host of characters and the confronting themes that it highlights. I have high anticipations for the next instalment in the Millenium trilogy.


Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Girl of the Dragon Tattoo. It is not something I normally reach for but its quirky combination of descriptive narration, vast cast of characters, and intriguing but dark plotlines make it a gripping read. I will definitely be continuing on with this series.


  1. Great review! I've had the first one for years as well, but I'm not sure if this one will be for me. I'm glad you liked it even though it's not one you would normally go to as well. :D

  2. This was indeed quite a gripping tale. I couldn't put it down and I raced through all three books. I'm interested to see what you think of the series as a whole when you finish it.