I have been MIA for a bit as I have been happily ensconced with my Nook and new reading material. Truthfully, after the London Riots and Boomerang Stock Market week coupled with the Debt Debacle I really needed an escape.
I found one in the Millennium Series by Steig Larsson. http://stieglarsson.net/. It may be better known as the Trilogy which began with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I am, of course, belatedly reading it as the last book was released in the Fall of 2010 but who’s counting?
I was intrigued by the reviews and liked that they are on the NY Times Bestseller list. I had just polished off The Lost World by Michael Crichton (also excellent and way better than the movie) so this seemed a good segue. It was better than a segue it was an engrossing, educational, rollercoaster of a ride read. So much so that I went sleepless several nights to find out what was going to happen to our strange heroine, Lisbeth Salander.
As a political thriller the series is dead on. The pace is so quick you never have a chance to get bored. The plot is also very intricate with lots of sub-plots, twists and turns. The last book that drug me along like that was The DaVinci Code.
Of course, I dig that the books deal with political and corporate corruption which seem par for the course these days. More and more movies and books, I have noticed of late are about these very issues. So much so that I find it rather scary. It’s like a not so silent outcry but perhaps that it my imagination (I hope so). I am sure that I am not alone when I say that any story about the good guys, no matter how unlikely they may be, is a welcome boon these days.
Lisbeth Salander, The Girl Who…, is about as an unlikely heroine as one could find. She is the kind of person you would meet and most likely dismiss because she is so different from the norm (whatever that is). There is nothing warm or cuddly about her and she is so cool as to be off-putting. She is anti-social, eccentric and unapologetically who she is. So many of us dictate our movements through life in accordance with what other people think. Not Lisbeth. Her actions seen from a distance are unfathomable. Up close, not so much :). She is nothing you expect her to be which is my favorite kind of person. She is striving to be free yet she lives on the fringes and in the shadows even as circumstances constrict her. There is something noble about that.
She is also damaged, psychologically that is, and as a result has become surprisingly stong and fearless with an unexpected vulnerability. In short, she is complex. We get so see her evolve through the course of the books which is pretty cool.
I love that the books contain a host of characters which challenge stereotypes, homosexuals, polyamorous relationships and women of strength. There are any number of strong female characters in direct contrast to women who are victimized and marginalized by society. The realism was rather raw and disturbing but that’s what gives it a gritty 21st century edge.
Some of the reviews complained that there was too much history in the book. I beg to differ. I love it when a book teaches me something and there is much to ingest here, i.e. Amazon history and mythology and Swedish Culture, Politics & Law.
**Review of the book Larsson references, “The Amazons of Black Sparta by Stanley B. Alpern” http://rainqueensofafrica.com/2011/03/amazons-of-black-sparta-women-warriors-of-dahomey/
I will say that I felt the last book was a little too long as if the editor was loath to cut out extraneous story lines. Nor, do I understand why the epilogue content was not part of the main story but on the whole they were all great reads.
While there are many messages contained in the books for those who care to look, they distill to one of my dearest held beliefs – nothing is what it seems. Which is to say that the world is gradations of grey and with in-depth examination almost nothing is black and white. It makes the world a challenging and fascinating place.
Movies of the series have already been released in Sweden to rave reviews. The American version of the 1st book will be released December 2011. Let us pray they do it justice…