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Book Review: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

This might be the first book I’ve ever read where all the names are Swedish. I’ve never seen so many consonants.

But onward!

I’m not sure where my ears were, but I had only heard of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo once before I read it in February. Little did I know that there was a movie, that the book was a massive (and deserving, surprisingly!) bestseller, that it was the first in a trilogy, or that the author, Stieg Larsson had died soon after delivering the manuscripts for all three.

But enough about what I didn’t know. What I do know is this: I read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire in about a week and they are freaking awesome. I enjoyed the second one even more than the first.

Truly, truly–two of the nicest surprises I’ve ever had.

I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that I am torn between wanting Lisbeth Salander to be my girlfriend (I’m allowed to have mistresses when they’re fictional) or whether I am terrified of her. Maybe both.

Here are some elements that are the mixtures of these books.

  • Lisbeth: Crazy hacker with a miserable past, weird hair, violent tendencies, and a great knack for revenge
  • Serial killers
  • Human trafficking
  • A giant blond guy who can’t feel pain
  • A bunch of reporters that aren’t nearly as boring as that makes it sound
  • Awesome writing
  • Perfect pacing

And so on.

But unless you’re me, you’ve probably already heard about these books. Have you read them?  Are you going to? Fess up!


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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dolly March 25, 2010, 2:26 am

    Okay, now you’ve convinced me. I have heard about them, but didn’t pay much attention because frankly the name didn’t appeal to me. But reading this review has convinced me to give it a try. Just as well I am in book buying mode 🙂

  • Ivana Sendecka March 25, 2010, 2:57 am

    Hi Josh,
    thanks for tip. I have heard about this book, but “YES” for it, just made me do few clicks on my Kindle and I will read it as soon as I will finished Homo Faber by Max Frisch. Pretty cool book, too;-)
    cheers from Slovakia

  • Fredrika March 25, 2010, 4:06 am

    Hi Josh, I’ve been following your blog for some while now since I found your review on Convict Conditioning, and as a Swede and Stockholmer, living in the same neighbourhood as Lisbeth’s character, and having a lot of consonants in my name, I feel this is the right time to drop a few lines and say hello – or hej, perhaps.

    I agree the books by Stieg Larsson are awesome. I was quite reluctant to the hype for a year, but gave the first one a try and basically did not stop reading until I had finished all three of them. Am not particularly impressed by the movies though. BTW “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo” is called “Men Who Hate Women” in Swedish – what’s up with the squeamish translation?!

    Reading Ivanas post, I just have to comment that Homo Faber is one of my absolute favourite novels. Very good read, too.

    Thanks for a great blog, I enjoy it a lot. Great mix of great stuff.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 25, 2010, 1:17 pm

      I appreciate that. Hmm…that is an odd jump in the translation.

  • Julie Roads March 25, 2010, 4:58 am

    Hey Josh! It’s my first time here and I have to say that I LOVE your header. I’ve read all three books in the Millennium Trilogy and loved them…so much that I began working with the U.S. distributor of the film to help promote it. Thought your readers might love to know that we’re doing a Dragon Tattoo Blog Hunt- that is full of reading and has a Barnes & Noble Nook at the end.

    There are few books that work as movies for me (The Color Purple, Shawshank, etc…) and now I’m adding Dragon Tattoo to the list. It’s a stunner.

    Check out the movie’s official site to see the trailer – and head to ‘contest’ to see about the Blog Hunt! http://www.dragontattoofilm.com

  • Dan Cosgrove March 25, 2010, 6:12 am

    So looking forward to this book. I just won a copy in that hunt-down-40-or-so-blogs contest the movie was running.

    Gotta love anything with scrappy short people.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 25, 2010, 1:13 pm

      Dan, have you read Patient Zero? It’s got zombies and scrappiness.

      • Heather March 25, 2010, 3:33 pm

        Patient Zero from Jonathan Maberry? He’s awesome! I’ve heard lots of good stuff about this one! LOVED his Ghost Road Blues trilogy. Vampires, zombies, good music, the town’s mayor turns into a werewolf. . . what’s not to like?

  • Heather March 25, 2010, 7:01 am


    Thanks for this! I had heard this cat hyped to the max on NPR about a year ago, and my soon-to-be-ex was just going on rapturously about how it probbly sucked, but now I’m gonna have to read it. A hacker chick with wierd hair! My kinda gal! As a chick who also has weird hair and a tattoo, I will be checking this one out at the LPL post-haste! Thanks! 🙂

    • Josh Hanagarne March 25, 2010, 1:13 pm

      I’m not sure how I missed all the hype. It seems like everyone knew about it but me.

  • Michelle March 25, 2010, 7:10 am

    My boss recommended this book to me last year. I’ve added it to my to-read list, but it hasn’t come around to the top of my pile yet. With your review, I think I’ll bump it up a few notches.

    By the way, I just started His Monkey Wife last night, and read The Killer Inside Me a few weeks ago. Thanks for the suggestions!

  • Anne Bender March 25, 2010, 8:18 am

    A vague recollection on the name. Heading to the library today with lots of books to return, so I will see if these are in for checking out. Maybe they have Swan Song, too, as I have been itching to reread it.

  • Justin Matthews March 25, 2010, 8:31 am

    Hey Josh I toogot caught up in this book. Julie up there got me into it and It was great! Maybe I should write my own review….It is good to get so much publicity about books that were a great read but not much heard of. and the blog hunt was fun…won movie tickets even though I couldn’t go.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 25, 2010, 1:12 pm

      What movie were the tickets for?

      • Justin Matthews March 25, 2010, 1:24 pm

        Girl with the dragon tattoo. It was from Julie’s blog hunt. They are sending me a copy of the book though

  • Joshua Black-The Underdog Millionaire March 25, 2010, 8:48 am

    Ok, I’m convinced. I was looking at this book as well, because I noticed that they recently came out with the movie adaptation (that’s how I heard about the book originally) in Sweden and according to Wikipedia, there may be a Hollywod version as well.

    How can you go wrong with human trafficking, hacking, and serial killing all in a one-stop shop? I’m sold. Thanks for the review on this one. I was totally on the fence about it, just two days ago in the bookstore.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  • ami March 25, 2010, 9:09 am

    Oh boy. You made me want to run to the store and buy this book – but I just won it in a contest, so I’m waiting for it to come in the mail. But oh boy, I’ll be digging in when it gets here.

  • Pamela Hernandez March 25, 2010, 10:01 am

    My book club read this last year and I really enjoyed it. I was a bit let down by the ending, but I am fascinated by Lisbeth. Reading the other two is a goal. I would like to see the original Swedish version of the film before I see the US version.
    Since you so highly endorse the second book, I may have to move it up on the list.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 25, 2010, 1:09 pm

      The only reason I was let down by the ending was because it was the beginning of a trilogy. The ending of part one fits in perfectly with the beginning of part two. You’ll see!

  • Lynn Kilpatrick March 25, 2010, 10:49 am

    I’ve read them both. The Swedish movie of the first is being released in the US right now.
    I liked the second more than the first, I think because it focused more on Lisbeth and less on the journalists. But it had a few quirks I can’t quite understand, like describing everyone’s sex life (even though it had nothing to do with the plot) and the constant reference to her Mac or his Mac.
    But other than that, I really liked both, am looking forward to the third, and am sad that he died.
    I like these books a lot, but they aren’t as good as Mankell or Indruldson (the Icelandic mysteries, I’m sure I misspelled his name, and Icelandic characters have lots of vowels too.)

    • Josh Hanagarne March 25, 2010, 1:08 pm

      Lynn, I had the same thoughts. There was a lot of talk about who was putting their business where, and not for the advancement of the story. And Mac, yes. I’m going to look up those Icelandic mysteries. Can’t wait!

    • Josh Hanagarne March 25, 2010, 1:09 pm

      Any titles in particular you can recommend?

  • The Naked Redhead March 25, 2010, 11:52 am

    I, too, was pleasantly surprised by both books. I found the first book to be a little bit tiresome for the first twenty-five pages or so, but once it got rolling, I loved it.

    And I have a girl-crush on Lisbeth, too. She’s pretty effed up, but so…cool.

    • Josh Hanagarne March 25, 2010, 1:06 pm

      Yeah, the first 25 pages were basically complicated financial double-talk. I skimmed them.

  • Kelly Diels March 25, 2010, 9:52 pm

    I’ve read it (in one loooooong sitting) and saw the movie. hmmm mmmm good.

  • Daisy March 27, 2010, 1:16 pm

    I read the first book and I have the other on my wish list at Paperbackswap.com. I’m not sure if I’ll see the movie; I almost always prefer the books.

  • Shane Hudson October 24, 2010, 3:42 pm

    Hah for the first time ever I just used your search box to find this review so I can comment on it.

    I am not a crime or thriller reader. I read fantasy and lots of it. But I found this book on my “to read” bookcase and am so very glad I read it. Throughout the book it reveals so much about each individual character I am not sure I have ever read such a realistic book.

    Such a great book! I would love to meet the characters… apart from of course that name we cannot mention due to spoilers.

    I am currently waiting eagerly on Amazon for the second and third books, cannot wait to see how Lisbeth grows as a character and hopefully the rest of the “cast” are still in the series as well!

    The only problem with the book is the names, I cannot read Swedish! Haha.

  • Shane Hudson October 24, 2010, 3:43 pm

    Oh and the first chapter… loved it! For many chapters I was trying to figure out who the old man was and where the flowers came from. I was not surprised by the outcome of who sent them though to be honest (once we learned of the person).

  • Levi June 15, 2011, 4:26 am

    It’s great to hear someone not complain about the pacing. It’s paced so well, developing and making us care for the characters. Great stuff!