Friday, October 1, 2010

The Millennium Trilogy

I’m not usually one to read books that have a lot of hype. Sure, I’ve read and blogged about popular series (Twilight) or bestsellers (A Reliable Wife), but typically I’ve read advanced copies and have glommed on before the reading rampage or at least The New York Times Book Review. So it is with a wry smile at myself and my particular anathema to reading crazes (I refuse to read anything that Oprah tells me to read, thank God I had already read Beloved and East of Eden), that I finally, after much hype and an amazing amount of sales, that I picked up Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest).

I can’t say much about this trilogy. I don’t quite understand the inordinate amount of hype, unless it is perhaps because of the author’s early demise. Truth be told, if I hadn’t heard about how good the second two books were, I never would have picked them up after having finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which I found to be a bit slow and dry. I don’t know if it was the translation, or just Larsson’s writing style, but there were times when I was flabbergasted by the unrelenting detail of the most inane actions within this book. “She walked across the room, turned on the light. Took of her red coat. Put it on the chair.” While this is not actually text from the book, this is a very good example of Larsson’s writing. It was amazing that I actually finished the book, based on that alone. Toward the end I did begin to enjoy the plot, but I was not exactly overwhelmed.

I must admit that I did enjoy The Girl Who Played with Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest much more. The writing was still dry, but not as stale as the first book. I enjoyed the character of Lisbeth Salander (more so than anyone else) and the conspiracies against her in these two books were much more appealing. Actually, I thought that if the first book would have dealt more with Salander, as opposed to Blomkvist, who I found to be an oversexed, less than desirable male, but as a character, intriguing because of his relationship with Salander, it would have been a much more interesting read.

I’m not saying much in this piece, I know, but the series has been talked to death. Basically, it wasn’t horrible, the plot as spanned between the three novels was interesting, and ended much better than it started out, but I’d rather read Tana French, someone with great characters and actual prose as opposed to the dry, somewhat boring stage directions of Larsson.

In conjunction with this rather brief blog piece I highly recommend reading this fantastic essay from The Millions. The author, Jane Potter, puts into words similar thoughts, but in a much more eloquent way. I really think she hits the nail on the head.

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