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Book 5 Completed

January 13, 2010

After finishing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo tonight, I felt like I should drive to IKEA and eat dinner there. I did suggest to Matt that maybe I should make a meal from each country as we go through this thing…but he was less than enthusiastic about that idea. 

So, I finished the book! I have a lot to say about it. And I’m going to start with a conversation that I had with my soon-to-be-sister-in-law; we both felt that the book was dragging a lot in places. Her theory was that the book didn’t go through a rigorous editing process since the books were all published posthumously. Certainly, the publishing company knew they had found a fantastic story, but without a writer, how do you manage any major rewrites? So, I believe they were published as is.

And, for me, it was wordy and heavy on unnecessary exposition. There is tedious step by step explanations of everything that happened between point A and point B: buying a paper, reading the articles, setting the coffee down, making a pointless phone call. This would have been easily fixed with a fierce edit — as a matter of fact, as an exercise, I plan on taking my copy, sitting there with a pencil and crossing out pages of meaningless background or repetition. Here is the thing: I don’t want to blame Larsson for this. His rough drafts were published. When you sit down to write, you just write — sometimes you don’t know you’re repeating, you don’t have a feel for the pace. I know that there was some family drama with keeping the manuscripts intact (obviously not editing the book has not impacted its sales). It’s badly edited — plain and simple. 

When Larsson really gets swept up into the plot of the Harriett Vanger disappearance, we are nearly halfway through the book. But it’s then that his book takes flight and he engages the reader. He brings that part of the book to a close and there are nearly 50 pages left…in which he revives another plot thread and continues to see it to the end. However, by that point, it seemed a bit anti-climatic. As a writer, I would have tried to continue to weave the stories — keeping both going until a BIG denouement; then finish it quickly. 

This felt like two books: The Harriet Vanger mystery AND the newspaper investigation. As stories, I liked both of them. I just didn’t like the way they worked together.

Now. The positive. The mystery intrigued me; I was hooked. And while I sort of had an inkling about part of the mystery, Larsson surprised me too and I like it when a writer genuinely surprises me. This book is disturbing. Deeply dark and crazy. We’re taking clear and graphic depictions of rape and torture. However, I think it worked within the context of the story Larsson was trying to tell about the Vanger disappearance

Another positive, I LOVE Lisbeth Salander. She is the type of character you wish for — the woman who refuses to be victimized. While you’re out yelling at other characters in books to do something brave, she’s out there doing what we WISH we could do to people. (Okay ,well, maybe not all of it.) She is strong, she is smart. She is saavy. I rooted for her and I want to read more about her. (Good thing there are two more books, right?) A lot of other reviews say she is shallow and poorly drawn. I disagree. I like her. 

Since I’m off on my race around the world, I’ll have to wait for 2 and 3 until 2011…

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