Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo - Stieg Larsson (audio)



This was another book on my list in which I felt I was the last to read. Fueled by insanely great reviews and Larsson's tragic death at the age of 50, after he had written a trilogy beginning with this book, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has taken the literary world by storm. As Larsson was Swedish, I knew the book was a translation, and included a huge cast of characters (to the point where the book comes with its own genealogical map), all with Swedish names. Was this too ambitious for an enjoyable audio experience? At the end of the day, my vote would be a resounding NO. In fact, it was pure unadulterated joy listening to this story.

The story is complicated, particularly once you sit down and try to briefly summarize it. Our protagonist is one Mikael Blomkvist, a middle-aged journalist who is managing editor of a small magazine that specializes in the financial sector, often exposing corporations and their white-collar crimes. One story involving a international hoodlum backfires, however, and Blomkvist is nailed for libel and sentenced to a short prison term. Blomkvist takes a leave of absence from the magazine to lick his wounds.

He is approached by an aging Swedish CEO and patriarch of a wealthy and extensive family, Henrich Vanger. Henrich offers Blomkvist a huge amount of money to write the story of his family history as cover for his real mission...to investigate the true nature of his grand-niece Harriet's disappearance (and presumed death) 40 years prior. There is a finite number of people who could have committed this unspeakable act, and most of them are the detested and dysfunctional members of Vangers' family. The police have long since exhausted all leads, but Vanger wants to try one more time before he dies. The cherry on top? If Blomkvist delivers, Vanger will serve up the international hoodlum to him on a platter.

Enter Lisbeth Salander. She is young, bi-sexual, anorexic-looking, pierced, tattooed (hence the title of the book), and socially backward, maybe even damaged. She wears leather and rides a motorcycle. But she is one of the world's best computer hackers and private investigators, and has come to help Blumkvist with his little project. Lisbeth is the real heart and soul of the story. She is an enigma...brilliant, vulnerable, introverted, and a total bad-ass. Any man that dares to mess with her is in for the shock of his life.

We have multiple plots. Corporate corruption. Familial blight and feuds. Brutal crimes against women. Sadism. If you like mysteries and thrillers, this is as good as it gets people. Blumkvist's unraveling of the Vanger family rat's nest is nothing short of brilliant, yet slow and methodical, revealing just enough to keep you on edge. And then there is Salander, who is probably one of the most bewitching characters ever developed on paper. I wanted to protect her, to befriend her, and maybe even accompany her when she is unleashing her whup-ass on her victims.

The narrator of the story, Simon Vance, is impeccable. He has won countless awards for his narrations, one of them for this performance. AUDIOFILE's review of his work on this book stated "“His voices are so natural and fit so well with their characters that the listener is completely transported into the story.” Well there you go. Couldn't agree more, couldn't have said it better. Swedish names be damned, you will not have any issues following this plot. You have my word.

5 out of 5 stars




29 comments:

Melody said...

Great review, Sandy!
You know, I am the last person to read this! But your review has definitely make me move this book up my TBR pile! ;)

Meghan said...

You're not the last person, I am! Your review has pushed me on my way though - I plan on reading this whole trilogy when my library has all 3 of them in. Great review, even if I'm not going to be listening to the audiobook!

Alice Teh said...

Great review, Sandy!

Funny how I bought the book when it was first released and was intent on reading it there and then, but somehow managed to procrastinate until now. It's still in my TBR untouched!!!

Sandy Nawrot said...

All right, I feel better! I guess I wasn't the last person to read it! I would highly recommend this book. I can't wait to get the second book on audio from the library!

farmlanebooks said...

I haven't read this yet either. I have had it sitting on my shelves for ages - I even have the sequel now too!

I really need to get round to it soon.

Molly said...

Well, you are not the last one to read this novel, even though it has been on my TBR list for a few months. I am glad that you enjoyed the audio performance and perhaps I will add this title to my audio list :)

By the way.....I reserved To Kill a Mockingbird at the library yesterday based on your recommendation. I can just imagine Sissy Spacek as Scout!

Beth F said...

I have the second one here waiting for me -- will probably read or listen in November -- Vance was awesome, wasn't he?

JoAnn said...

Was planning on looking around for my next audio book today, but think I may have just found it!

Sandy Nawrot said...

Jackie - As usual, I would always be curious at your reaction. I never know what you are going to think! But as far as murder mysteries go, this one was spectacular. Can't get it out of my mind.

Molly - Sissy IS Scout. She just embodies her. I can't wait to see what you think!

Beth - OMG, just a fantastic narrator. Not every person could narrate this one - it would be seriously intimidating. I am number 20 out of 20 holds on the next audio...does Vance narrate that one too?

Sandy Nawrot said...

JoAnn - ooh, definitely grab it! You will not be disappointed!

bermudaonion said...

I do like mysteries and thrillers and I got this for Christmas last year and still have not read it. I have no excuse for being the last person to read this book.

Kaye said...

I haven't read this either so see, Sandy, you are way ahead of a lot of us. It has been on my list to get though for ages. Great review. Have a great week and happy reading!

Andreea said...

I don't know if I want to read this book, but anyway, great review, Sandy!

ds said...

This audiobook accompanied me on several long drives. I had a tough time keeping all of those Vangers straight (no wonder the book has a genealogical map!), but I did like Lisabeth Salander (also Blomkvist).
Excellent review, Sandy!!!

Matt said...

I enjoy reading your review but I am still not sure if I can get through this one. I was just not very engaged into the multiple plots, but I haven't got to the hacker part yet.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Great review - I really like your description of Lisbeth! By the way, after the first, I had to read the second, and since after the second, I wanted to read the third, I ordered it from the UK Book Depository. It's discounted AND no shipping, and best of all, available now without waiting for the U.S. to get around to publishing it!

Ti said...

That would definitely be a huge advantage to listening to the audio version... knowing how to say the Swedish names! I sort of muddled through them myself.

I am about 150 pages into book #2 and it's sooo good that I don't want it to end.

Jenners said...

I just got sucked into joining the Quality Paperback Book Club (again!!) because they were offering me 4 books for $1 -- and this was one of them. It just sounds so good -- and who doesn't like a woman who can kick some ass. You got me so excited with your review.

Lisa said...

Glad to hear that this one is good in audio. I love to listen to books while I read but some of them are so poorly narrated or are too complex to listen to. I'm going to have to see if my library has this is audio, because I'm even further behind the "in" crowd on this one than you were!

Lauren said...

Great review! I must admit, after reading the jacket cover for this book, I thought "uhhhhh....confused." Because it was confusing! ANd a bit pompous. But your review convinced me to give it another look. :)

Nymeth said...

This was one of the mysteries that were suggested to me when I asked for recommendations a while ago - it sounds like I really need to check it out!

caite said...

I agree that this was a great one. sadly, the second was not as good in my opinion...good but not great.

Kathleen said...

Well now I am officially the last person to read this one!

Carrie K. said...

Just found out my library has this - and the sequel available for download on Overdrive. I will be listening to it soon!

Melissa - Shhh I'm Reading said...

I have this one in print and just got it on audio from the library and can't decide which version to use...

Amy said...

Whew! I'm glad to see I'm in great compny not having read any of these books yet. I don't even own any. I got a little turned off seeing the book everywhere and anywhere (silly of me I know) Ihad no idea what the story was either until I read your review, Sandy. Now, of course, I'm hooked and have added to my TBR list. You did a fantastic job summarizing the book and didn't give away anything major but said what needed to be said to indicate that this is a story worth reading (or listening to!

Thanks, Sandy :o)

Serena said...

This is a book still on the shelf waiting to be read and I have the second in the series now...LOL

Literary Feline said...

Thank you for the great review of this one, Sandy. I've been anxious to read this since I first heard about it. One of these days I'll get the chance. :-)

Anna said...

Great review! I've been on the fence with this book, but your review is the first to tip me toward the "to read" side.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric