Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

590 pages
Author: Stieg Larsson
Genre: Mystery
Series: Millennium Trilogy #1
Originally written in Swedish
The original title’s translation is Men Who Hate Women


Mikael Blomkvist is a journalist and the publisher of the Millenium, a financial magazine.   After being convicted of libel against the billionaire Hans-Erik Wennerström, he is sentenced to 3 months jail time and he steps down as publisher of the magazine.  Before completing his jail time, Henrik Vanger, the former CEO of Vanger Enterprises, contacts Blomkvist with a proposition.  Vanger wants Blomkvist to write a biography of the Vanger family, while secretly investigating the a disappearance from decades ago.  Vanger is convinced that his 16  year old great-niece was murdered and that someone in his family was involved.  He is able to persuade Blomkvist to take this case by promising him valuable information to clear his name and condemn Wennerström Lisbeth Salander, who Vanger previously hired to do a background check on Blomkvist, ends up getting involved with the case to help Blomkvist research.  Lisbeth is a difficult young woman with a troubled past of crime.  She has multiple piercings and tattoos, giving her a rough appearance that enhances her tough personality.  However, despite all of her issues, she has a brilliant mind and is invaluable to the case.

Lisbeth Salander
Lisbeth is the girl with the dragon tattoo, so I was surprised that her part in this first book of the trilogy was relatively minor.  She makes infrequent appearances, but when she does appear she is very memorable.  Her character is unlikeable.  She is stubborn, disagreeable, unsociable, and mean.  But, she is also brilliant.  I never pitied her for the troubles she goes through, since her character is too tough to allow pity, but I was always amazed by her strength and a bit frightened by her commitment to revenge.  While she is not someone I would likely have as my friend, she makes for a very interesting character.  I think Stieg Larsson did well to ease her character into the book though, since she can be disconcerting at first.

When I first started reading it…
Eh.  It starts off pretty slow, which normally would be okay since I’m used to the introduction blah blah blah’s of books, and the long descriptions of tons of family members was alright since they explained it a few times until I got it.  However, it was the focus on financial details and business that was difficult for me.  I felt totally lost at first, but I think that this confusion was personal and not a fault of the book.  I now can appreciate what it means for my boyfriend to be an accounting major. Also, there are a few references that didn’t ‘click’ for me since the book was originally written for a Swedish audience.  After the first chapter or two the book’s pace picked up and became much easier to read.

Overall Thoughts
This book was different from other mystery/thrillers I have read, such as James Patterson, because it takes time to build the story.  While there were parts that kept me on the edge of my seat, this wasn’t until the end.  Stieg Larsson really took time to fully develop the characters while slowly expanding the plot, which I loved.  This book was not only great as a mystery, but also as literature. 

This book does deal with some explicit content relating to sexual trauma.  I almost quit reading this book (which I very, very rarely do) after reading a particularly explicit scene.  If you are very sensitive to this topic then you should be aware of this before you start reading the book.  However, I do give the author credit for not allowing this dark topic to consume the book.  It was very well balanced with lighter situations and the majority of the plot did not concern this.  There was really only one instance that was extremely explicit and disturbing.  If you are sensitive to this however, you might want to just skim over that part when you get to it. 



This movie hits theaters on December 21st.  It’s already on my calendar – can’t wait!

7 comments on “Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

  1. mheretowrite says:

    Waiting for the movie!!!
    Right now reading the third part and wondering how much more trouble can Lisbeth get into!!

    • Michelle says:

      I can’t wait 🙂 I still have to read the next two books, but I’m taking a break and reading some other things first. I heard that once you read the second you’ll have to immediately start reading the third because of a huge cliffhanger, so I’m waiting to start that.

      Thanks for stopping by my blog 🙂

      • mheretowrite says:

        You heard right about the cliffhanger. Review is there on my site if you want to see( I havent given away the main parts of the story so you’ll have fun reading the book without knowing the details )
        Like you said, the books have a slow start ,I’ll only reached page 100 something so it still in a slow pace.

  2. Baochi says:

    I liked all three books but found the third one a bit anti-climatic. It’s almost as though the third book was a denouement to the first and second books.

    I saw the the Swedish movie versions and enjoyed them. I’m a bit confused as to why American film versions are coming out and may or may not watch them.

  3. lisamm says:

    I think this is going to be one of those rare instances when I like the movie better than the book. I had very similar feelings about the beginning of the book; it was sloooow and the financial/business stuff bored me to tears. It took me a long while to get into it and I probably wouldn’t have kept trying except all my friends basically insisted I not give up on it. Now they’re insisting I read book 2. Maybeeeeee.

    • Michelle says:

      I just finished book 2 and am now onto book 3. I like the books, they’re well-written, the characters and plot are interesting, etc, but there’s something missing. There just isn’t a compelling nature to them, I guess. While at the end of the 2nd I was dying to get the next because of a cliffhanger, overall I’m never dying to continue reading. They haven’t lived up to the hype for me.

  4. […] This book follows The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (#1) and The Girl Who Played With Fire (#2) of the Millenium series.  It picks up where The Girl Who […]

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