There are very few modern novels that I enjoy, and the first installment of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo,’ did not cause a change of heart. It took me three or four months to finish it, since I kept putting it down in favor of books that weren’t pure fluff. The main plotline held my attention, but there was so much extraneous bullshit that I got impatient way before the end of the book.
Stieg Larsson isn’t an awful writer, but he’s a little too fascinated with minuscule details. For instance, when one of the main characters, the stereotypically punk Lisbeth, gets a new computer, Larsson has to tell the reader exactly how much RAM it has, exactly how many inches wide the screen is, and even what damn color she chooses. Nobody cares. She bought a computer, end of story. Larsson also has a habit of throwing random sex scenes into the mix, which wouldn’t be annoying if they weren’t so devoid of emotion that they only function to keep the attention of readers who like lots of boobs in their reading material. If So-And-So screws What’s-Her-Face, I only want to know about it if it carries the plot.
As a mystery novel, ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ was satisfactory at best. The first five-sixths of the book or so, the reader is inundated with information, only about a third of which is related to the actual mystery. It’s a slow build. To sum it up, a disgraced journalist is trying to figure out the disappearance of a young girl named Harriet. When he realizes there’s more than one disappearance and a truly twisted serial rapist/killer is behind them, I’ll admit I started biting my nails. But Harriet herself gets so buried that I almost forgot about her, so when he uncovers the truth of her disappearance, I barely cared. The climax of the story was, shall we say, anticlimactic. And instead of wrapping up the happy ending and calling it a day, the author rambles on for a while, forcing you to wade through so much irrelevant falling action that the ending came as a relief.
Still, the book wasn’t all bad. Larsson’s bad guy was the sort of nasty that’ll give a reader the willies, and I have to give him kudos for not having his two main characters walk off into the sunset holding hands. Unfortunately, ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ was a little too lackluster to warrant to two sequels. I won’t call the book a waste of time, but I am not at all interested in what happens next.