Thomas McKenzie
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The Man Without A Dragon Tattoo

I read Entertainment Weekly (pray for me), and so I had heard of something called “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”  I had no idea what that was--video game, TV show, movie, graphic novel, whatever--but it had a cool title.  Then about a month ago I was on Amazon.com and was informed that I could download this novel to my Kindle for $5.99.  I thought, "why not?  Let’s see what all the fuss is about."

While I was on vacation, I read the Stieg Larsson novel “cover to cover” (a phrase I put in quotes since I read it in digitized form, so there was no cover per se).  After reading it, I watched the film of the same name.  While I could have seen it in the theater on Martha’s Vineyard, I decided to see it streaming on Netflix for free.

Since then, I have read a bit about the author’s life, and have been invited by Amazon to download the other two books in the series.  I have also been informed that Daniel Craig, who I loved even before he was James Bond, will be playing the male lead in the upcoming Hollywood version of the film (because Americans won’t pay to read subtitles).

Now, having done all that, I am prepared to make my grand pronouncement.  Ready, here it comes.  Drum roll please . . . .

What?  Really?  Am I missing something?  (yes, that is my grand pronouncement). 

This book is OK, but it isn’t especially good.  I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, though it was good enough to finish.  I thought the lead man, Mikael, was kind of tool.  Lisbeth didn’t seem like a real person to me at all; she just had too many superpowers.  The other characters all seemed fairly one-dimensional.  I didn't believe about half of the relationships.  I questioned characters' motivations.  I was annoyed by the over-attention to minor details and the way major details were sometimes ignored.

There were effectively three mysteries in this novel.  The answer to the presenting mystery was fairly obvious (though the how? was impossible for the reader to figure out).  Of the other two mysteries, one went way over-the-top (Nazis, the Old Testament, and serial killing, oh my) and the other, the one involving the bad-guy captain of industry, was handled far too quickly.  The book was talky, it dragged, and then when stuff did happen the action felt out of place.  Overall, the book strained credibility.  Further, and this was confirmed in my mind by my some of Larrson’s biographical data, the whole experience made me feel that I was privy to a particular man’s fantasy life.  Whatever Larsson wanted to be, he made Mikael that. 

The movie was better than the book.  By cleaning up the plot, the story was somewhat more believable.  The acting was generally solid; most everything else about the film was average.  I was glad that Mikael was less of a sexual stud, though I did not need to see the brutality that happens a couple of times. 

All in all, I don’t feel the need to read the other books.  I doubt I will see the other movies.  I don’t hate the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Even though I sort of attack it in this post, it was interesting enough to read all the way through (though I did consider stopping several times).

I am left with this very serious question:  Why?  Why this book?  Why did it explode in popularity?  Why are so many people reading it?  Why the rush to make a Hollywood version of it? (OK, the answer to that question is invariably “money.”)

If you loved the book or the movie, or the series of books, would you please tell me why? What is it about this story that has made it so popular with so many people?  I would very much like to know. 


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