I’ve got this rule about books that I’m quite sure I share with many literature lovers: if there is a screen adaptation I MUST, no IFS ANDS OR BUTS, read the story before I watch it. Why? Because,
nine times out of ten ALL THE TIME, the book itself is much better than the movie.
Relax, film buffs. I’m not saying that movie adaptations are bad. In fact, some of them I find quite enjoyable. The thing is, you can’t critique a film and a movie in the same category. Why? Because trying to fit 350 pages into two hours (as the days of the 90-minute epic come to an end) is just impossible. Things that went so well in the novel just won’t work with the plot the producers are trying to squeeze into their scripts. Most of these come out very nicely; there are quite a few book-films that I would go see more than once, however, as a self-proclaimed bibliophile (I promise, that word isn’t dirty, look it up) I will always and forever love the books more. Unless it’s The Notebook. I’m sorry, Nicholas Sparks, that novel just didn’t do it for me.
Now why on God’s green earth did I start a book review with that little spiel? I must confess– and I feel positively wretched for admitting this to the entire internet– that I was introduced to Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo because I watched the movie first.
I know! I know! I can’t believe I said it! But, you’ll have to cut me some slack, I did watch the movie in class, and because it was required, I’m not going to think of this as a complete breaking of my rules. Besides, I enjoyed the film so much, I went out that week and bought myself a copy of the novel. Except, because university is a parasite whose favourite meal seems to be free time, then I had to leave it on my shelf until about two weeks ago when I finally got to pick it up again.
And my oh my, what a fantastic read. For those of you who haven’t heard of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, stop reading this post, and do yourself a favour by going to get it right this second. In about 380 pages, Larsson brought adrenaline raging through my veins like those bullet trains in Japan. He made me so uncomfortable at points that I wanted to put the book down but couldn’t– you sneaky bastard, talk about a page turner– and by the time I made it to the end, he had me screaming like a pre-teen after an episode of Pretty Little Liars, or whatever kids are watching these days (even though I’m nineteen, you catch my drift). Oh yes, it’s one of those books.
Larsson manages to mix a riveting murder mystery into a political-slash-financial drama into an insane commentary on modern maltreatment and abuse of Swedish women– did I mention the book has been translated into dozens of languages and has been sold worldwide?!– and through this intricate plot web, spins readers along, keeping them willingly caught until they’re forced to set the book down at the very end. I mean, I knew how the thing was going to end and I STILL broke a sweat in the climb to the climax. I fell in love with Lisbeth Salander– the most badass character I have ever read, like, ever— and Mikael Blomkvist, two protagonists who were written so well I felt I had gotten to know them as friends by the end of it, which is weird and totally made me feel like I’d checked out of reality for awhile, but if that’s what I book is supposed to do– and I wholeheartedly believe it is–then four for you, Stieg Larsson.
Of course, because I had seen the movie first, I found the ending of the book to be rather long. Without ruining too much, I felt that the climax I had seen should have been how the book ended, but there were still eighty or more pages to go before I hit the true ending. Not that those pages ruined my experience at all; but I would send out the warning to anyone who is taking the path that I did (curse you, Strategies class!). The other thing to be wary of is the immense amount of violence that appears in the book. There were moments included that I felt that anyone, regardless of gender, would cringe upon reading. In fact, the original, Swedish title for the book directly translates to Men Who Hate Women, if that’s any hint toward what is coming. That being said, the book is a commentary on a pretty uncomfortable topic; I don’t think that it should deter anyone from checking the book out (unless they can’t handle that stuff, of course), especially because it’s something that I think people need to talk about, but that’s a topic for another time.
I’m trying to keep these posts shorter than normal, just because I can go on forever, especially about a book like this. All in all, I’d give it five stars, and a recommendation to anyone who enjoys mystery, action, suspense, a blockbuster film in a novel… (really, guys, I’m just gushing now). The plot is just so clever; I really need people to scream about this book with, and even though it isn’t brand new or anything, it’s new to me, so if anyone out there is feeling what I’m feeling right now leave me comments. I need to relate.
Check out this synopsis from Goodreads:
Mikael Blomkvist, a once-respected financial journalist, watches his professional life rapidly crumble around him. Prospects appear bleak until an unexpected (and unsettling) offer to resurrect his name is extended by an old-school titan of Swedish industry. The catch—and there’s always a catch—is that Blomkvist must first spend a year researching a mysterious disappearance that has remained unsolved for nearly four decades. With few other options, he accepts and enlists the help of investigator Lisbeth Salander, a misunderstood genius with a cache of authority issues. Little is as it seems in Larsson’s novel, but there is at least one constant: you really don’t want to mess with the girl with the dragon tattoo.
Go. Go get it. Right now. Just do it. You’re doing yourself a huge favour.
Also, if you like book reviews, leave me a comment with encouragement and suggestions. It gives me something to do in my spare time, and since I love sharing stories, this seems like a really fun thing to do.