Sunday, November 7, 2010

Book Review: Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy

Stieg Larsson, the author, died of heart attack a few months before the first book of the trilogy was published, and as such, he did not get to see how wildly popular these books have become. Pity on us, for I would gladly read more of his work. His Millennium Trilogy is one of the finest, absorbing thrillers I’ve ever read.

“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” kicks off the series as the main male character, a journalist named Mikael Blomkvist, was hired by an aging, wealthy industrialist to investigate the murder of his niece, a cold-case that occurred 40 years ago. During the investigation, Blomkvist encountered Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant hacker and complex character with a dark past of her own, who helped him to unravel the mystery surrounding the murder. The book is rather slow at first, yet remained intriguing enough that I could not put the book down.

The great thing is that the series got better as you moved to the next two books, in which Salander became the central figure of a top-secret, explosive cover up. I read the second book (“The Girl Who Played with Fire”) and just went “Whoa…”, and then I read the third book and went all “Whoooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa”. Crazy awesome! The last 200-pages of the third book, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” is such a page turner that I would have been jumping up and down had I not been reading those last chapters in a moving car. It was such a restless read, because I can’t wait to figure out what will happen next.

And Lisbeth Salander is freaking awesome! Despite of her depressing, sullen way, it is refreshing to root after such an atypical heroine. This is no damsel in distress – she totally kicked ass (and many other body parts as well).

One of my minor complaints is the somewhat choppy sentences – my wild guess is that since the story was written originally in Swedish, and as many other translated work, it is unfortunate that we sometimes lost the smoothness of the words. The unfamiliar Swedish names and geographical location intermittently threw me off, especially in book three when a slew of new characters were introduced in such a short time. I did have to flip a few pages back to remind myself who is who.

Forget all that, and stay put for the twist and turn of the story and the pulse-racing, dark and twisted narrative. I thought I could have figure things out halfway of each book, ala Dan Brown’s novel (the nicest person in Brown’s novel is usually the bad guy, eh) but no – Larsson mercilessly threw more and more twist to the plot when you least expect it. I also dig the strong female characters portrayed throughout the series, and the somewhat feminist/civil right tone the books carried.

All in all, an enjoyable read.

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