19 May 2011

Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy

I finally read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire last June, in rapid succession. I immediately put my name on the library's list for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, and when my two weeks rolled around, I devoured that as well. I'm sad that that's all we're going to get--Larsson had only completed the first three of his books before his death. I would love to spend more time with Lisbeth

The books are intriguing, and I love the random facts or quotes that start the sections. The writing is fast-paced, and even though the books are a not-insubstantial length, I read them quickly because I was so enthralled. The plots are fantastic--a teenage girl who goes missing from an island? Corporate corruption? Sex trafficking?--and there were instances when I wish we had been given greater explanation or backstory into a plot element. What really happened with Wennerstrom?

Lisbeth is a fascinating character. She's disturbed, has her own sense of morality, and is unforgiving. She's had a horrible childhood and early adulthood--the main part of the books--but she's resilient. I think Lisbeth is a great example of an antihero; sometimes you don't entirely want to condone her methods, but you definitely root for her.

Michael Blomkvist is...not my favorite. He sleeps with everyone. Not that I have a problem with that--or with the Berger/Blomkvist relationship--but does he need to sleep with every. single. person. in order for him to be an interesting guy? Apparently. He also comes across as kind of self-absorbed, abandoning his responsibilities to go off "Blomkvisting," as Christer Malm puts, it with little advance notice. But that's okay, he's a sex-on-a-stick superspecial journalist. I definitely got the idea that Blomkvist was more than a bit of a "author insert" aka "author avatar." He's who Larsson would be if he were cooler, or so it comes across.

I think I would've enjoyed the books more if Erika Berger were more involved. I loooved the drama surrounding her in the third book. She's absolutely fascinating, and as a woman looking to work in the media--not journalism, no, but still media--I really related to her and was rooting for her. She has a definite sense of ethical behavior, of morality, but she's willing, reluctantly, to allow Blomkvist to bend the rules in order to get details for a story that would help the greater good.

I read this article from the Huffington Post a while back, and I wanted to share it. The author, Tom Matlack, explains that the Millennium Trilogy should be used as a jumping-off point for a discussion on domestic violence and rape. I agree: at this point, the series has been read by an overwhelming number of people, but I haven't come across much that addresses one of the, if not the, main issues of the books.

His conclusion is particularly compelling:
Larsson gives his readers a window on sadistic rape, and yet we really don't want to make the association with reality. [...] But ignoring the problem won't make it go away -- by choosing to remain voyeurs, we are, in effect, making the world safer for violent predators. Sexual abuse is rampant and the real victims don't have Lisbeth Salander's ability to fight back. They are depending on the rest of us to do the right thing, by stamping out a culture of abuse and holding perpetrators accountable. "Social change will happen," Wolfe points out, "when more people stop choosing the route of saying nothing and acting like it's not happening."

In summation: read the books, they're good, but don't be afraid to discuss the underlying themes. And I'm off my soapbox (for this week).

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at Amazon
The Girl Who Played with Fire at Amazon
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest at Amazon
My Problem with 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' by Tom Matlack

No comments: