Quick explanation for those jumping into this cold: The author was a writer and activist in Sweden who envisioned and wrote a series of novels in his spare time. He published three of what was supposed to be a ten part series, then died, with the outlines of several more novels in his notes.
This is important because some things happen in this novel which set up events in later novels. I found this out listening to the second novel, when some of the seemingly gratuitous events in the first novel came into play.
This is a smart novel with interesting characters and unusual mysteries, set in Sweden. The settings alone make it interesting. The central mysteries themselves are not well executed in this book, but there are underlying themes involving gender, mental illness, governmental abuse and freedoms, that make it a smarter novel than the mystery alone does. Overall, it reads like a good first novel, complete with rookie mistakes, by a writer with something to say.
The narration is excellent, though some of the names blended together in my American ear, and some of the novel dragged or got confusing when the author described something he expected his Scandanivian audience to know. It pulls it all together by the end to create a richer story than the average thriller serial novel.
Some of it may disturb sensitive American ears, though. Just to warn you. Don't listen with your kids. Some scenes are a bit sexually blunt.
I had no expectations for this book, but it won the best of 2008 so I thought I'd give it a try. I was genuinely pleased with this book. The story line was good and well developed. I especially grew to love Lisbeth Salander. I can't wait to see what happens to Lisbeth and Mikael in book 2.
Thought this was a very entertaining book and the reader is engaging. You will not find yourself losing track of what's gone before. However, there are two scenes (1 rape and 1 animal mutiliation) that are disturbing if you are not prepared for them emotionally. Be forewarned. But do not let that dissuade you from taking up this book.
First, I must say that I am not as critical of many things as I am of a good story. Books to me are meant to draw you in and create for you a world that you can really envision and see unfold in your mind's eye. This book just does that! I was a little hesitant about listening to a foreign work but was please that I made this choice. Well researched and written. The author does a good job of character development and stroy telling. The mystery is enthralling and I found myself listening to the book outside of my normal listening time (while I'm commuting to work). If a book can do that to me then it must be something worth listening to. Bravo.
I loved this book! Except for a brief bit of background at the beginning of the book I never found it to be boring during it's 15 hours. Hated to have it end. This and The Thirteenth Tale are two of the best books I've enjoyed in a long time.
I'm sorry, I know everyone says this is a really good book. Give it time they say. Just get through the slow beginning they say...But I just can't. I've tried so many times to finish this book and it is literally painful. Maybe it's just me.
Say something about yourself!
What I loved: The mystery/thriller part of this book was fascinating, engaging, and quite a ride. I had a hard time figuring out who did it and why. When I found out, it was a great journey to the end, which is far away at that point in the book.
What I liked: Most of the characters were really well thought out. Each one flushed out just enough by the author that you could understand their motivations and personalities. You weren't sitting there at any point going "no way he/she would have done that". Some of the characters are quite shocking though, so be prepared for that.
What I thought was "sorta ok": The financial part of the story was not all that thrilling, at least from my point of view. It was kind of like 2 books in one, like it was hard to decide which one the author really wanted to write. I could have done without "LS" rape scene, it was a little too graphic for me but it was a significant reason she does a lot of things.
What I didn't like: Nothing really. Thought the beginning dragged a bit (first 5 chapters or so) but you quickly forget that as the story starts rolling.
Why I gave it a 4: This was a really well rounded story with intriguing plots, storylines, and characters. There were definite "edge of your seat moments" followed by "let me devour the information presented moments". Had the beginning been a bit more catchy and the financial storyline been a little less detailed, it would have gotten a 5.
The only thing about Larson's work that keeps it from the fifth star is that it required one last edit. It drones on at times but if clipped by the right pair of scissors, this and the next of this trilogy would be instant classics. All the rest is there. Period.
A professor at Dodge College, I teach Film Music. I spent 33 years in the movie business before teaching. I LOVE books and my girls. Ta-Da!
I suppose one should mention the quality of the writing which rises above most authors in this thriller/mystery/hi-tech genre, or whatever you call it. The characters are three dimensional and totally alive. When you start there and combine the narration by Simon Vance you've got yourself a fantastic, imaginative ride. I can't imagine anyone not liking this unless some of the sexual violence turns them off. (it does get gruesome, but it's all in character)
This is so compelling and the narration is the best I've heard. The first part is a little confusing but its not vital to understand every small detail. Then the story totally takes off. Simon Vance is terrific.