Sunday, March 16, 2014

Book Review: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

I have to put both covers on here, because fun fact: the novel was not published as "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." It was published in Sweden as "Men Who Hate Women." Honestly, a better title, but too harsh for us Americans, probably. Why put such an innocent title on a book that discusses rape, abuse and incest?
Where do I even begin with this one? I read this book as part of a project for my sociology senior seminar class, thinking that I could use it effectively in application of Marxist literary and sociological theory. I was NOT disappointed in that regard. Not only is it a great example of a popular contemporary novel, but it just... wow. There was just so many complexities in the novel, so many subplots and great scenes, I can't really do anything but praise it as a noteworthy piece of modern literature.

This was kind of my reaction the entire time I was reading it.
I mean, holy crap, you never saw a lot of the scenes in the book coming. That was what was so great about it. I could relate to the main characters somewhat. I'm thinking of how to describe the characters as effectively as I can, and all I can think of is the "good neutral evil" 9 tiered chart that apparently originated in D&D but is used for so much more now. I mean, it's definitely a good way to put it. It's just that the characters are so complex that they aren't pure good and evil. One of the protagonists is always skirting the law in order to get the truth, and the other protagonist is a good person but in some aspects is kind of a sexist jerk (if you've read the book you'll know who I'm talking about). The antagonists are also, just wow--some of them are pure evil, and the others have good intentions but, well, can be jerks as well.

I haven't read a mystery book in quite a while, but I remember now why I would read them occasionally. There were some parts of the book I had to read right through. And if you truly love a mystery, you will really love this because there are two mysteries--a financial, capitalist (white collar crime) mystery, and a nail-biting, violent crime aspect of the novel that will seriously shock you. Underneath all of the complexities of the characters and motivations, is a running theme of how wrong misogyny is and that hidden under the surface, women are still treated as wholly inferior today. You can relate it to the rape culture that is still perpetuated in American society--"oh, she was wearing provocative clothing; she was drunk; she was asking for it". Some people will tell you that this doesn't exist anymore. Unfortunately, this kind of stuff still happens to women every day. Throughout the entire novel, Larrson is screaming, "stop this inequality now!!" How awesome is that?!

Through his novel(s) about corruption and violence against women, Larrson cracked wide open all of those stereotypes and inequalities that perpetuate today. Through his believable and relatable characters, realistic motivations, and unbelievable plot, he crafted such a masterpiece. If you like mysteries or even if you don't like mysteries, you should read this book. You seriously won't regret it.

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