Tuesday, July 24, 2012
The Millennium Series
This series has been a long time going with me. I, initially, had absolutely no interest in reading the Millennium Series. A couple of close friends had tried to read the first book and said it was just way too boring. Then, while David and I were living in San Antonio, I befriended one of David's co-worker's wife. Christina told me that her favorite book of all time was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I was shocked...and you would be too if you saw the girl that said this. Christina is super petite, very sweet and as nice as can be. These books are known for being very gritty...mostly because of the extremely graphic and ugly rape scene in the first book. When I mentioned the rape scene and how supposedly horrific it was (I didn't really know since I hadn't read it yet), Christina simply looked at me, paused, and said, "Weeeell, yea. But, the story is just so good." Ummm...OK.
So, I decided to put it on the back burner and read it at a later date. I mean, Christina is a big reader too and every other book we talked about we pretty much agreed upon. So, I waited to give 'er a go. And then a couple more girls in book club gave this series a try. They were very good reviews...and one of the girls' review I wouldn't be exaggerating at all to say that it was "rave"; she actually hugged the books as she described Lisbeth and the story.
At Christmas time, I took the first book home at book club and started reading. And let me tell you, they're not kidding about the rape scene. And there's not just one, but two! And the second one is 100x worse than the first! I thought I was done after the first one, but oh no, fast forward another 20-50 pages and wham! Disgusting. Grotesque. Horrific. All of those things and more. However, while I was reading this, I remembered what my dad always tells me about books and/or movies. If you're going to have an exceptionally and wonderfully awesome "good guy," then you absolutely have to have an equally despicable "bad guy." So, knowing this I continued to read. And the story just gets progressively better and better!
The storyline is incredibly complex and thrilling. Lisbeth is probably the most highly unlikely heroine you will ever read about. She's maybe 100 pounds dripping wet, has very goth clothing and make-up/hair and keeps to herself. And yes, I'll give my opinion on her mental state of mind, since it's one of the big discussions with this series. No, I do not think she has Asperger Syndrome. Lisbeth is very anti-social and incredibly intelligent (she has a frickin' photographic memory, hello awesome!), but she chooses to be anti-social and chooses to treat people the way she does. Plus, her reasons for treating members of authority become extremely obvious as the series progresses. I can't say that I would treat the police and doctors the was she does if I had been through everything that she had, but I'd probably feel as much disdain as she does in a similar situation.
At the end of book one, like in many trilogies, I think you could stop with this story, if you'd like. So, if you wanted to just "try this series out," then you could just read the first book and let it go. You'd be satisfied with the ending and wouldn't feel obligated to continue. A lot of the time, I feel like authors are just trying to "cash in" on a continued cash cow. However, I know this isn't true in this case, simply because it's widely known that Larsson submitted all three transcripts to his publisher at the same time, prior to his death. But, I feel that the first book adequately introduces you to Lisbeth and the other main character, Blomkvist. If you're intrigued enough by Lisbeth at the end of book one, I highly recommend continuing.
Everyone I know that's read this series has stated that book two is the best of the three. So, I went in with high hopes...and they were kinda dashed. Maybe it's because my expectations were so high...or maybe I would have felt this way regardless. Who knows? But, I did love the book...I just didn't love it AS MUCH as the first. Now, the second book leaves you hanging...big time...so, if you are reading (or going to read) it, then be sure to have book three handy when you are finishing the last page of The Girl Who Played With Fire.
That leaves us with The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Awww...bliss. Have I mentioned this series is amazing? And that Lisbeth is amazing? I love how saucy and butt-kicking she is...what a great female role model for women. With that being said, I would NEVER let a young girl read this series. Mostly for the rape scene, but the main characters are also very comfortable and free with their sexuality as well. And really, I kinda think Blomkvist is a male slut. But, hey, that's just my opinion. I would recommend this series for maybe a late teen, early twenties girl (at the earliest).
The story wraps itself up in a nice little bow and I really feel that Lisbeth, as well as other main characters, really mature and develop nicely. I would say that I loved books one and three equally well and that book two, while still being good, was more of a traditional transition book than anything. I mean really, when is the middle of a trilogy ever as good as the beginning or end? Hello? And I might be dating myself with this comparison, but Star Wars and Back to the Future? Yea, both transition movies were not as good as the others.
Overall, in synopsis, the rest of the world (when this book became crazy popular) weren't out of their minds. It's a very, very good set of books and I highly recommend them. However, there is extremely adult content and you need to be prepared, when you pick it up, to read a gritty, thrilling and complex storyline. And have I mentioned that it's amazing? I don't fault Christina at all for it being her favorite book of all time.