In which I am brutally honest about some books.

For those of you who don't know, Stieg Larsson was a Swedish author who died in 2004, shortly after turning in the Millennium Trilogy.  The books have become bestsellers in Sweden and the US, and I finally read the first two, after my dad told me he'd disown me if I didn't.

And I'm glad I did. But I recommend this series to you with two disclaimers:. It does have some seriously adult situations in it, and  it's a little hard to get into.

Let me explain.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1) by Stieg Larsson The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1) Larsson, Stieg

I almost didn't make it through the first third of this book. I don't know if it's that I mostly read YA, or if my attention span is shortening with age, but there was WAY too much backstory in the first part for me.  Also, too much description of what characters are doing.

For example:  Main Guy Character Mikael finally gets to the island where the plot is, and agrees to solve the murder that is the driving force of the story. 


Then we get two to three pages of his first night on the island, and where he went and what he ate and what he thought of the dark and the cold and how he tries to call his sort-of girlfriend, but she doesn't answer.


(Now, my father--who is just as avid a reader as myself, but reads much more adult fiction--thought the pacing was fine. So it could just be that I'm not the ideal reader for that kind of description.)

Once you get fully into the book though, it's a good read. Mainly because of the two main characters, Mikael and Lisbeth.  In fact, I fell in love with Lisbeth, a young, ruthless, computer hacker.

And it's a good thing I did, because it turns out that the series is NOT primarily about Mikael, even though the first book starts with him and how he's in trouble with the law and in trouble with his magazine and how he buys notebooks and eats at cafes and tries to figure out how to solve the murder.

It's all about Lisbeth, which becomes obvious in...

The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2) by Stieg Larsson The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium, #2) Larsson, Stieg

Like PJ Hoover's books that I reviewed last week, this second book outshone the first. Only in this case, instead of just being a bit better, it was amazingly better.  Lisbeth possesses very few social skills, but she can get into any computer anywhere, knows how to disappear and carries a HAMMER around with her to discourage attackers.

Loved it.

This book is all about the build-up. Lisbeth is on the run from the police for a triple murder she may or may not have committed, and in the process, she and Mikael unearth a series of powerful lies and cover-ups that have affected her whole life.   And the end is a cliffhanger, so much so that I called my father and had this conversation with him.

ME: I finished the second book. Oh My Gosh.

DAD:  I told you so!

ME: Just tell me one thing. Tell me the third book has a good ending, because I swear if these bad guys don't get their heads kicked in a spectacular manner after all of this, I'll throw the book against the wall.  I'm not going through any more of this if the payoff isn't good.

DAD:  Don't worry, it's worth it.

ME: Hooray!

So, now I'm telling you the same thing. The series is worth it. If you can make it through the first half of the first book, it's pretty amazing.


  1. Oh, YAY! Thank you for this. I've heard such rave reviews of these books, but I'm like you--mostly YA, with a preference for fast pace. Since you reviewed it like this, I think I might be picking it up!

  2. It's always nice when other writers do book reviews! I find I have such a hard time getting into books because I nitpick everything and have a hard time shutting my editing brain off. And like you, I usually stick with YA, but now I will consider hunting for these books once I get through the stack sitting on my shelf.

  3. I've seen these books but haven't read them. But like Beth said, now maybe I will.
    I've noticed the reverse, too, where the first book is amazingly better than the next.

  4. Beth- I'd be interested to hear what you think. They certainly aren't YA books! Although Lisbeth is eighteen, I think...

    Laura- The funny/odd thing about the Larsson books is that he alternates pages of needless description with incredibly intense scenes, or very creepy revelations. Perhaps your editor brain can skim the description?

    PJ- That's what I mostly see in trilogies, actually. The first book is fabulous, and then the second... isn't so much. But I love it when each book is more engaging than the last!

  5. I picked up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo yesterday, looked at the cover and put it down again. Maybe I should read it. Thanks, Simon.


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