image of Girl with the dragon tattoo

First Book Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

 

For those of you who read my introduction,  you know that I’m an avid reader.

Introduction

As a first post, I want to introduce you to my love for reading. I will share with you some of my favorite genres/authors, and review my latest reads. Whether I’ve loved the book or not you will get my honest opinions. I’m sure sometimes you will not agree with me, but that’s okay. We do not all have the same tastes, therefore we will not agree all the time. 

Future Topics Discussed

Some of my posts will include the types of books  I tend to gravitate towards. Also, what I would like to tackle for my future reads. It’s my personal space where I will leave room for change because I am very much a mood reader. At the beginning of each year and then the subsequent months, I attempt to make a “to be read” list.  As you will get to know me you will notice that it will probably get modified a few times.

 

There’s always a new book that seems really interesting and that I feel that I should prioritize. Therefore my attempts at sticking to a set TBR list are for sure in need of improvement, to say the least.

 

As we get older we all evolve and our tastes change. I’m approaching 50, and I do not have the same preferences as I did 30 years ago, or even five years ago. Human beings need to constantly learn new things, step out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves constantly. That’s the cycle of life.

Now, let’s get back on track and see how my love for reading developed.

 

How It All Started

Ever since I can remember I have always shared a love of books. To me, the smell of a new book is simply amazing. I know many people feel the same, so I’m not alone in this respect. I can spend hours at the library or the bookstore browsing through books. For me, reading is like therapy. Some people have different ways to deal with their issues. I usually turn to books and get lost in their wonderful universe. It’s a great escape from everyday stress.

 

I remember growing up in my grandparents’ house as a young girl and going through their extensive library. I was always borrowing books to read in my spare time. I grew up in Romania in the seventies as an only child, so other than reading and playing outside there really wasn’t much to do.

Grateful

I was one of the most privileged kids in my neighborhood because my aunt (my father’s sister) married an Italian and subsequently lived in Italy. Whenever they would visit they would bring me puzzles or something else that was rare in Romania at the time. I am grateful to them for introducing me to puzzling, which became another favorite pastime of mine. 

 

Thank goodness I have a curious personality and I don’t mind spending time by myself, or I would’ve been a very miserable child. Or maybe I learned to enjoy spending time alone because I didn’t really have a choice? Well, that’s a whole other story, which is not the purpose of this post! Let me try to stay on topic!

 

As you can see, I can get derailed easily off the subject at hand, but that’s one of my quirks! Now I’ll get back and talk about books. After all, it is what this post is meant to be about.

 

I love many genres, but if I absolutely have to pick just one, I will have to go with Nordic Noir. Some might ask, “how did you come to love that genre so much?”

Background

It’s quite an interesting story, as many of you might guess. Like most readers, I found my way throughout the years by reading a whole bunch of different authors of different writing styles. I finally settled on the Scandinavian style after many attempts at different genres. There’s something about their atmospheric, quiet culture that just resonates with me. When I pick up a book by any one of their wonderful authors, I immediately feel at ease. It just feels right, like I belong there.

Memory Lane

One of the very first books I’ve read (that I can remember, anyway!) was either Murder On The Orient Express or Death On The Nile, by Agatha Christie. I must’ve been at least 10 or 11 years old at the time. Either one of those two books is the reason I’ve always gravitated towards detective novels.

 

Then a few years later I discovered other authors from this genre, such as James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell, John Grisham, and Kathy Reichs, just to name a few. 

Closer To The Present Day

And then a good friend of mine with whom I would swap books mentioned this new super popular author everyone was talking about, Stieg Larrson. Back when his first book was available in Canada, around 2006-07, Goodreads and Instagram didn’t exist, so we used word of mouth and librarians’ recommendations. Yes, I know, the stone age!!!

 

The iPhone wasn’t even out yet, but the same great friend has access to the best-stocked library in Montreal. She would always share the new releases that she would get her hands-on with me, so I always found out about the newest authors.

 

Without further ado, let me start reviewing one of my all-time favorite books. And no, I do not have only one favorite, I have many, way too many to write about in one single post.

Book Discussion

Today I will briefly discuss the book that got me started on this Nordic Noir journey, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.

 

To be honest, the first hundred pages or so started a bit slow for me. I couldn’t help but wonder; “why is everyone making such a fuss about this book?” Well, as I am someone who rarely abandons books unless the said book is mind-blowingly boring, I decided to power through.

 

And boy, am I happy I did! I discovered one of my favorite heroines of all time, Lizbeth Salander. She is a fierce and complex young woman that impressed me from the first time she was introduced in the book. Her unique style and survival instinct make you either love her or fear her.

Synopsis

The premise of the book happens around the disappearance of Harriet Vanger who is part of a notable Swedish family. Her disappearance happened over forty years ago, and journalist Michael Blomkvist is hired by Harriet’s aged uncle to help investigate this mystery. He gets help from Lisbeth Salander, a 24-year-old super clever computer hacker who was also hired by Henrik Vanger to hack into Blomkvisk’s personal and professional life. As an intricate plot develops, Salander and Blomkvist discover quite an unfathomable corruption. The indescribable crimes that took place within that family, as well as among the more elite part of society are gruesome. The duo becomes entrenched in solving this crime. The action is so well described and keeps you on your toes that you will literally fly through this book.

Themes Touched Upon

Larsson touches on many themes in this book. Violence against women, coverups, libel, ethical corruption are among some of the very important yet real problems that persist in Swedish society today.  He also builds his characters with so much detail that you feel like you’ve known them all your life by the time you finish the book.  The book is followed by The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, all three written by Stieg Larsson.

Thoughts

Unfortunately, Larson died after his third installment of this series was published, so we had to make our peace with that. David Lagerkrantz, another Swedish writer, continued on the series with three sequels, but to be perfectly honest they don’t quite live up to Larsson’s unique writing style.

 

All in all, this book set off my love for Scandi-Noir, and I’ve never looked back since. After Larrson, I delved into Camilla Lackberg’s Fjallbacka series. It follows writer Erica Falck and detective Patrick Hedstrom’s relationship, which is just as intriguing and enrapturing as the crimes they solve. Other Scandinavian writers captured my heart as well. I will mention them and their books in future posts for sure.

Concluding Words

I will discuss a topic that arose while I was reading this super interesting book in the near future. But I will keep some of the mystery for now. Hopefully, that will arise your curiosity. I wish for you to look forward to finding out what I’m talking about.

 

I really enjoyed writing my first review ever, and I hope you did as well!

Till next time, Anca.

 

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