The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Series by Stieg Larsson...a review

I like living under the belief that most people in the world are inherently good. I like believing that most  people are not completely despicable whose primary goal is to in someway take advantage of another human. Stieg Larsson's crime fiction series incorporates so many characters that are simply horrible people, that if I truly thought this was life, I would absolutely never leave my house...and even then I would be scared. At least 50% of the male characters within the entire series wish to physically, sexually, and mentally harm any other character, mostly females, with such intense degradation and hostility and with such little worry as to the repercussions- it is definitely concerning.

Having said all of that, Larsson's series is incredibly dark. Lisbeth Salander, Larsson's central female character, endures a pretty damn depressing and abusive life. An incredibly smart victim, Salander is socially inept, yet in a way the same ineptness that plagues her also encourages her to succeed in situations that others probably would not simply because she lives as though she has nothing to lose.

I liked the series, but I say that with some reluctance. Crime fiction as a genre is most definitely not my favorite. Suspense, action types of thrillers are kind of annoying to me, both in movies and books. I think The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was a very good read- plenty of character development, but not too much, strong command of the plot, very well written and an ending that was reasonably believable within the story.  However, by the time I was into the second (The Girl Who Played With Fire) and the third (The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest) I found that I wasn't as impressed.

About two hundred pages into the third, I felt like a clear pathway to the end of the series was so completely muddled with new "connected" characters, that I found myself reading over sections trying to figure out exactly who everyone was. I don't enjoy that. Admittedly, the series was translated from Swedish to English and the majority of the places and names of people are unfamiliar, so I get that I don't have the background to build upon. But, in the last book of a series, I think introducing like 20 new "necessary" characters is a bit unrealistic for your reader. I do also understand that Stieg Larsson's series was published posthumously and so who really knows what his plans ultimately were, he could have easily continued the story or an offshoot with a few of the characters. At the very least the series could have been four books, spreading out the depth of characters and conflicts.

Stieg Larsson writes an extremely detailed novel. He is unparalleled in terms of his description of characters and their relationships, setting, relatable history, and his completely obvious amounts of research he must have done to reach this point. That kind of commitment is exciting.

Also, and this really has nothing to do with the series per se, but Stieg Larsson wrote a saying I've heard forever, but never realized what it looked like in writing. "For all intensive purposes" is actually "for all intents and purposes". Years of understanding must now be re-written in my mind.


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