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Millennium #1

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

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Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.

An international publishing sensation, Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo combines murder mystery, family saga, love story, and financial intrigue into one satisfyingly complex and entertainingly atmospheric novel.

480 pages, Hardcover

First published August 1, 2005

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About the author

Stieg Larsson

58 books15.6k followers
Stieg Larsson (born as Karl Stig-Erland Larsson) was a Swedish journalist and writer who passed away in 2004.

As a journalist and editor of the magazine Expo , Larsson was active in documenting and exposing Swedish extreme right and racist organisations. When he died at the age of 50, Larsson left three unpublished thrillers and unfinished manuscripts for more. The first three books ( The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo , The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest ) have since been printed as the Millenium series. These books are all bestsellers in Sweden and in several other countries, including the United States and Canada.

Witnessed a rape when he was 15, and was helpless to stop it. This event haunted him for the rest of his life. The girl being raped was named Lisbeth, which he later used as the name of the heroine on his Millenium trilogy. Sexual violence against women is also a recurring theme in his work.

Personal quote:
To exact revenge for yourself or your friends is not only a right, it's an absolute duty.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 77,941 reviews
Profile Image for Brad.
Author 2 books1,797 followers
January 24, 2010
I've heard and read many complaints about Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo:

1. It's misogynistic.
2. It's packed with cliché.
3. It's too convoluted.
4. It's too disturbing.
5. Lisbeth wasn't autistic enough or was foolishly autistic.
6. There were too many red herrings, and the damn Nazi red herring didn't have the usual payoff.
7. Too/Two many plots.
8. Too hard on Leviticus.

I will answer these in a moment, but first I must declare that I am an unrepentant fan of this book. This is one of the rare times when I long for goodreads to have half grades, because I would love to give this 4.5. I can't give it a full 5, though, because I sense Mr. Larsson's series is going to grow in his last two books.

And now...back to the top eight complaints:

1. Perhaps, but how can a book whose original Swedish title is "Men Who Hate Women" avoid misogyny? It can't. But at least the misogyny present is a comment on misogyny. Larsson isn't being misogynist. He's attacking misogyny.

Moreover, our hero, Mikael Blomkvist, is not one of the men who hate women. He is a pretty good guy, actually; in fact, he's one of the rare guys I would actually categorize as a "good guy" in most modern literature. Sure...he's a bad Dad. Sure...he has a failed marriage and many sexual relationships. Sure...he makes some decisions that challenge his ethics. But he remains a "good guy." He tries to do well in an ugly world. He never succumbs to cynicism. And he genuinely cares about all the people in his life. Male and female.

And it's not like Berger and Salander are weak women -- far from it. There may be misogyny in Men Who Hate Women, but it is wholly the characters' misogyny -- those who have it -- and not the author's.

2. With apologies to my friend who's first name starts with T: Cliché, smiché! Yes there's some cliché -- maybe plenty of cliché -- but who cares?! Seriously? We're not talking about Proust here. We're talking about a mystery novel, a serial killer who-dunnit. Complaining about cliché in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is like complaining about "pinko sympathies" in The Communist Manifesto.

There's communism in Marx? Really? You think!?

3 & 7. Yep. There's a couple of distinct plots here, but there's a level of verisimilitude to that. Have even our banal lives ever had anything important happen without something else important occurring at the same time? Not mine, and to have multiple incidents happening simultaneously makes sense to me. The search for Harriet Vanger wasn't hampered at all by the Wennerström drama, and vice versa. And to be honest, I loved having a pair of mysteries solved in the same novel.

4. Too disturbing compared to what? It's nowhere near as disturbing as American Psycho, and it's about average as far as the serial killer genre goes. Plus, I think there is a power in the graphic moments of this novel, particularly Lisbeth's vengeance on her guardian. I am not on her side when it comes to this vengeance, but I understand it, and the drive to take vengeance in such a way -- such a human way -- fascinates me. Who'd have thought, besides maybe my friend Manny, that the Swedes have it in them?

5. Perhaps this is true, but at this point I have only read one of the trilogy, and the only person who suggested that Lisbeth was autistic was Mikael, and while he thought she was suffering from Asberger's his guess was only in passing. I can cut the book some slack here. (suspend my disbelief, suspend my disbelief).

6. I was stoked that, for once, the Nazis were a red herring rather than the ultimate, degenerated evil. We all expect the Nazis to be the worst of the worst, so it is refreshing to see them as a deflection instead.

8. Can anyone really be too hard on Leviticus? Ummmmm...nope.

Now, I admit that I might love this novel simply because it is set in Sweden. After all, I do love ABBA, Fredrik Ljungberg, IKEA (my apologies), glögg, Stellan Skarsgård, Max von Sydow, Ingmar Bergman, and Mats Sundin. I looked into emigrating to Sweden but had no excuse, being a resident of Canada with no skills the Swedes were looking for, and I am a fan of Norse Mythology, but I do love Sweden, and I was jazzed by the setting of Larsson's book. All that aside, however, I think The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was a compelling, entertaining and unabashedly thrilling read.

If you can overlook the eight complaints, or consider them in a different light, you'll like this book too. I promise.
Profile Image for Ivanna S..
10 reviews59 followers
March 21, 2011
I really don't understand the critical orgasms over this book. Amazon pushed it on me for weeks, and the minute I stepped into Borders an employee ran over and recommended it. Thinking, this really better be the best book I've ever read, I took it up to the checkstand, where the register guy asked: "Did one of our employees recommend this?" Um, yeah. And Amazon, too. So of course I asked him why.

"Oh," he replied, "we've been told to recommend it this week." That should have tipped me off right there: recommendations handed down by management. Pfft. I hesitate to suggest a conspiracy, but - did someone end up with too many of these in a warehouse in Duluth? Did Oprah make a bet with someone that she could pull strings and make the most boring book in the world a best seller?

But I am suckered in by numerous good reviews and a fairly interesting book jacket description, so I buy it and take it with me on a trip camping with my family. Of course it totally sucks. I'm kicking myself because I feel like I really should have known. But the reviews - ALL the reviews - are absolutely positive from generally reliable sources, so I just DO. NOT. UNDERSTAND.

Here's why I don't like it: I am about a third of the way into it, and literally hundreds of characters have been introduced. NOT ONE of them has done anything interesting, so I am finding it nearly impossible to keep them straight. I am the type that will be more or less satisfied reading the back of a cereal box, but this is BAD. I mean bad. The mystery is dull. The who done it is more like a who cares. The two primary characters are so far not very likable at all - in fact, the review descriptions are more interesting than the book descriptions of them. I'm betting part of the problem is the translation, presumably - but god, there is just some boring writing in here, too. "He went to the store. He bought milk. He was cold. He went home." - BOR-RING! I am not really exaggerating, either.

Actual content:
"He put on a pot of coffee and made himself two sandwiches. He had not eaten a proper meal all day, but he was strangely uninterested in food. he offered the cat a piece of sausage and some liverwurst. After drinking the coffee, he took the cigarettes out of his jacket pocket and opened the pack."

Again, I'm willing to give the author the benefit of the doubt with the translating, but I wouldn't have gotten out of high school writing with that kind of boring and utterly pointless description. It sets the tone of "lonely dude being lonely" but really: two sandwiches? why two? sausage and liverwurst - fascinating.

That's really just a page I opened to randomly - there is much worse. I am truly bitterly resentful of every minute I am stuck on the side of this mountain without a good book to read. I'm ready to browse the mini mart down the way and read the real estate magazines instead. Why have all the reviewers and Amazon steered me SO WRONG???

I am not trying to insult anyone's taste - so please don't get mad about my opinion. But if you love this book, please - tell me WHY. What am I missing?

Profile Image for Beth F.
389 reviews355 followers
September 3, 2009
Swedish people are nuts! I realize that’s a bit of a broad generalization and it sounds a bit rude, but I don’t care. Because more often than not, I’m nuts too.

I was born and raised in Minnesota, and if you know our state history, you’re already aware that we were predominantly settled and populated by Swedish (and Norwegian) immigrants. So not only are many Minnesota residents of Scandinavian descent, myself included, a lot of our quirky mannerisms and even our accents are commonly attributed to this influence. I attended a Swedish Lutheran college (which attracted a lot of Swedish exchange students). And one of my oldest and dearest friends is an American by birth but was raised in Sweden and didn’t return to live full-time in the U.S. until she was 18. She’s always found Minnesotans to be a very interesting form of science experiment—what happens when you mix Swedish and American culture anyway?

Taking what I know firsthand of Minnesota culture into consideration, I can only assume that Sweden, aka the motherland, is also a twisted place of dark, dry humor. Some mainstream examples that support this claim would include: Fargo, Drop Dead Gorgeous, A Prairie Home Companion and yes, even Mr. Purple Rain himself, who even though he’s genetically a bit more exotic than a plain old Swede, definitely displays some of the more oddball (but typical) Minnesota traits in his own special way.

The point being, the characters in this book felt oddly familiar to me, quirks and all. I’m actually a bit surprised I loved the book as much as I did because I normally criticize authors for trying to jam too much into one story and this book had a lot going on:

--shady business dealings
--corporate fraud
--religious fanaticism
--extramarital affairs
--casual sex
--creepy pervs
--violence against women
--money laundering
--sexual sadism
--political proselytizing
--dysfunctional family secrets

And that’s just scraping the surface. Because once Larsson got into it and started digging deeper into the plot and revealing more details, my head started spinning and I had smoke coming out of my ears. I wasn’t expecting to be sucked in so quickly by the plot and am still reeling over the fact that this brick-like book (my copy has nearly 600 pages) went as quickly as it did.

I just reserved the sequel from the library and am also excited at the prospects of a third. I’m also sad that Mr. Larsson passed away. What a talented author—not many could tie so much crazy shit into one story and still have it make sense AND be entertaining.

Although I think whoever decided to change the title when they released this book in English is nuts too. The original Swedish title, Men Who Hate Women, is much more fitting.
Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews162k followers
June 14, 2021
Buckle up.

It's gonna be...a slow ride until about halfway through. Then it's hairpin turn after hairpin turn at breakneck speed. Whiplash.

This book was a bit difficult to get into. Mikael Blomkvist (a journalist) is sentenced to jail for liable. He knows he's right. His team knows he's right. But they don't have enough evidence to overturn it.

His magazine is about to go under and with this jail scandal....let's just say life isn't a bouquet of roses.

Henrik Vanger - ex-head of the Vanger corporation - decides to hire Mikael for a special assignment: writing the family history. However, that is just a cover. His real job? Solve a decades-old murder of Henrik's favorite niece (Harriet).

Mikael soon teams up with Lisbeth Salander. She's a hacker extraordinaire with her own, peculiar brand of justice. She's simply stunning and absolutely puts all other heroines to shame. An absolute motherfreaking badass.

Together, they discover far more than their wildest nightmares.

NOTE: This was my third time through, and honestly...third time's the charm.

Attempt 1: Eighth Grade. Read up until the financial scam and lost interest (DNF).

Attempt 2: Learned that this was my grandfather's fave book. I wanted to have something in common with him so I reluctantly picked it up.

I listened to the audiobook and became engrossed in the mystery but frequently lost track of who was who. I'm still glad I tried it because it gave me something to write to him about in the weekly letters.

Attempt 3: It's been a bit over a year since my grandfather passed and I just felt like I needed to read it again.

Reading this book for the third time just blew my mind. It's partly because I was constantly reminded of him and partially because I'm familiar enough with the plot/characters that I can pick up on all the things I missed earlier. It's been a bittersweet reread.

The 2018 PopSugar Reading Challenge - Nordic Noir

Audiobook Comments
Read by Simon Vance and he was just the absolute perfect voice for this book. Really, truly a great listen.

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Profile Image for  Teodora .
404 reviews2,152 followers
December 8, 2023
WARNING! This is going to be a long TED Talk because:
I could talk about this book all day without breathing pauses and I’d still not finish everything I want to say about it.

4.45/5 ⭐ for this one because I couldn't convince myself to give it 5 stars, no idea why though.

Full review on my Blog: The Dacian She-Wolf 🐺
“I’d reckon you’d bite off my hand if I laid a finger on you”.

As Dragan Armansky felt in that particular moment about Lisbeth Salander, I felt that about her the whole book. And I must say that I liked feeling that way about her. That means that she has some sort of wilderness in her personality that makes her so interesting, not only as a character but also as a possible real-life person.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo made me ascend through different stages while reading it. I rarely find a book like this one, to make me feel all sorts of feelings towards it, from all the levels of human sensitivity in thinking. If I’d have to layer the stages of my process of reading this book, probably it would go like this:

1) Level 1: Confusion
I was extremely confused with the beginning. I think I had to read it at least five times to actually get a grip of the story in the beginning. Maybe it is because I was briefly introduced in the middle of a scene with unknown characters and undiscovered plot. I don’t know, but I had a hard time with it anyway.

2) Level 2: Boredom
I’ve had a hard time convincing myself that this book deserves to be read because of the epic state of boredom that I encountered. I spent two hours reading without stopping only to find out I’ve made only 4% progress (yes, I read it on my tablet because I don’t have enough finances to buy all the books I want and also survive as a student who is away from home and also likes to eat). I kept asking myself what was this bug of boredom that I had and then…it hit me. TOO MUCH ECONOMIC TALK. As a student at the Academy of Economic Studies, my interest should’ve been aroused. Even more – as I study Business Administration, all the business talk should be some delicious dessert for me. But NA-AH. I am bored enough by the countless hours of business terminology, ideology and any other –ology that shit implies, I don’t need to read about it in my spare time too. But hey, why not creeping some of that ish in my casual reading to keep the brain on its right track of self-destruction, ceteris paribus?

3) Level 3: Spark of interest
After about 100 pages (I reckon even more) something started working for me. The mystery started to crawl at the surface so I could see and touch it and also expect more and more. Then, the author added some interesting family dirt (that I absolutely love, don’t judge me, I have a weird family too, amazingly weird, if I may add, but still weird) and also some World War 2 references (all these besides the actual mystery of Harriet Vagner’s disappearance and also possible murder). I don’t know what happened from that moment on, but it started being good. Like really good. It’s just…you can feel the mystery, especially because the book gives you almost 0.1 details about the possible murder. Your inner Miss Marple must be intrigued. Mine was for sure.

4) Level 4: Outrage and disgust
Since now, I haven’t talked much about the eponym of the book, right? Well, let me talk then. Lisbeth Salander . And the surely nauseous manner in which she was treated. How do you expect anyone with at least a bit of empathy and humanity not to be OUTRAGED and DISGUSTED by the rape scenes which Lisbeth has been put through? It is absolutely indisputable, morally wrong and socially disgraceful. I am going to be very mean and very direct and I am going to ask a question: What level of psychical constipation do you need to have to pursue such an abominable act?
Yeah, those passages made me very sick. And very sad. Truly. I felt nauseous after all. But then…

5) Level 5: ‘She’s a f-ing genius-arse boss and I’m here for it’
Lisbeth Salander is a bloody queen and you can’t make me change my mind even with an AK-47 glued on my temple. She’s ice cold, but she’s breathing fire. She’s the fool of the village, but she’s the hero of the nation. She’s invisible, but she’s not transparent. The way she seems not to care about anything that may interfere with her principles and also the way she cares about things but never speak them up is just so her, so part of the true individual she is, even though she might look unrealistic constructed. You do you, girl. You do you.


The fact that, until the middle of the book, Salander and Blomkvist didn’t meet and also ‘the girl with the dragon tattoo’ was reduced only to a few scenes made me question my reading choice. I was on board only for Salander, because she captured my interest from the first time she appeared in scene. But then, Pippi Longstocking and Kalle Blomkvist merged together and gave life to this fabulous Swedish detective dream team and I was down for it.

Talking about the characters of the book, the female characters were such badass women it felt so good reading about them (super businesswomen taking over multinational companies? Yeah, okay, sign me up). I couldn’t feel any real connection towards the male characters however, except for Mikael Blomkvist. Even though he is a lousy father and husband and he has some shaky ethics in life, he is definitely a good man by his nature. Yes, he has his own issues, but who doesn’t? Yes, he was having a not so secret love affair with his best friend and business partner, Erika Berger, but as long as they didn’t make a secret out of it and people in their lives accepted it, I can’t say that it is that punishable.
And, also, because we are still on the topic: Erika Berger. I absolutely loved her. She is a witty businesswoman, with a lot of gut and a lot of cold blood to make decisions and to run her own world. She’s a strong woman who makes her own living out of her own life and enjoys it as it is, never letting anyone getting to her with some second-hand crap.

But. The most important character of all, the one that I absolutely loved beyond any other character is…ladies and gentlemen…*drum rolls*…yes, you're right, Lisbeth Salander!
I can’t tell you why I feel this way about Salander, but she was my absolute favourite since the very first moment I met her. The passive way that she adopted, the cold feelings that she spread, the taciturn nature and her absolutely killer mind just had me on board. Everyone saw Salander as a victim of society, but I felt that was wrong. I have never had that feeling about her. She always inspired me survival. She was a fighter by nature and fighters always survive. And this is how Salander made her way through life. Also, let’s be honest now, she has a killer T-Shirt taste, like seriously badass (see ‘Armageddon was yesterday, today we have a serious problem’ and ‘I can be a regular bitch. Just try me’).

In conclusion, this book gave me such a hard time I cannot explain, but it was also a really good book that I might consider as one of my own personal favourites. Also, as a side note: has anyone notice how much coffee do those people drink?? Or is just me?
All in all people, good reading!

Profile Image for Sarita.
150 reviews67 followers
December 27, 2008
Hey, kids, if you like books in which the only major descriptive moments happen during sexual torture scenes, where major characters lack motive, and where the red herrings...stink ... this book's for you!

I may feel less strongly after a few days, but I am having a hard time believing this book has hit the best-seller lists in multiple countries.

**Rant containing Mild Spoilers**

Here are my complaints:

1. The entire book sets you up to think that the alleged killing/s were perpetrated by one or more people for complicated reasons.
They're not. A murderer, at the climax, reveals, "I like killing [people]." That's the motive. That's it.

2. The title character has her macabre past detailed at length. The salient facts to the case - how did she come into possession of her detective-ing skills? - is left out entirely. Her emotional life is ignored until it's needed for a little plot development and then ignored again for a gazillion pages. She makes Kinsey Milhoney look like a guru of emotional awareness and self-knowledge.

3. When a MAJOR DEVELOPMENT happens in the case, like, THE MAJOR DEVELOPMENT, we the readers hear about its resolution third hand. A reunion occurs and we are not privvy to it, even though it's REALLY IMPORTANT. That is LAME.

4. Stop with the Mac commericials aleady. Is it possible that the well-financed campaign for this book had to do with the fact that the dead author couldn't object to selling Apple and Kawasaki shout-outs?

5.The two plot lines are almost entirely unrelated. They don't even intersect, really; one segues into a second, and then, when the second is wrapped up entirely, the first plot returns to end with a whimper.

6. There is a Lot of torture-porn in this book. Did I mention that? Detailed description of sexual abuse, incest, and general nastiness that does nothing to advance the plot. Really. It just takes up space making you think there are reasons for the murders, but ...no, see #1. We listened to this on cd and I kept trying to forward and ending up on the absolute worst moments. Blech.

7. Several passages written as an email conversation. It's like the author realized at a certain point that he was so bad at dialogue that he'd better just give it a rest for a while and instead use stilted telegraph talking.

8. This book was not fun or smart. I kept thinking it was about to be, but I was wrong.

**End of Rant**

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Meredith Holley.
Author 2 books2,335 followers
June 21, 2012
Women are raised to routinely fear rape.

“If you go at night, take a friend.” “Check under the car and in your backseat before you get in.” “I’m just saying it’s a good idea to know where the exits are.” “I got you this whistle for your keychain, you know, just so you have it.” “You were an hour later than I thought you’d be! We called the police!” “Oh, that’s pepper spray; I keep it with me just in case.” “I just make sure I get my keys out and check for other weapons if I’m getting off work late.” “Is this weird? I live alone and I’m going running, so if I don’t call you by 11:15, call the police, okay?”

A woman who fights back – no, a woman who argues at all – does so knowing it will probably make her a social pariah.

“She’s just one of those women who makes life hell . . . like a Hillary Clinton type.” “You’re different; you’re not a ball buster like some girls.” “You know that rape accusations can destroy a man’s life, right? And when she said it, did you see how she looked? I mean . . .” “All girls do is complain and nag. Not you, of course – most girls.” “But it is really women who are the privileged ones to be covered and cared for by the man; all of the responsibility for decisions are on him.” “He didn’t mean it the way it sounded, so you'll just regret it if you tell him he's wrong.” “She never understood me, and now she’s making all of these claims and trying to take practically half of my paycheck. I think she was just in it for the money in the first place.” “All I said was she has a nice rack; what a bitch.” “That’s just life; make the best of it.”

And there is good reason we are raised to fear rape, and raised not to fight back: survival. Women know that if we walk alone in the dark, statistically there is a good chance we will get raped. If we go to the wrong party, we’ll be raped. If we misread that boy next door and his swellness is a con, rape. And when a person is in a position of being systematically controlled, it often does cause more physical or emotional damage to fight back. It’s not right, but it is realistic.

It seems to me like it is the equivalent of every man being raised that if he leaves the house at the wrong time, he might encounter a woman who will strip him naked, hold him down, and knee him in the balls while she masturbates. And then in this alternate universe, these boys find out, as they grow up, that most of the men they know have had that happen to them. And I’m not trying to minimize sexual assault experiences that involve little or no physical injury, nor am I trying to minimize sexual assaults against men: no one has the right to touch another person’s body without permission. I’m talking about the way women are raised to think of daily life. Women are not raised to be afraid we’re going to get a super hot BJ that we didn’t realize we wanted, which is sometimes how I feel people talk about rape accusations. We are raised to encounter our daily lives knowing that, even if violence wasn't in our past, violence probably is in our future. And every time someone says, “Don’t go alone,” it is a little reminder that a lot of men hate us.

I have to say, though, that while I think it is realistic to say that women are raised to fear rape and to incorporate that fear of rape into our daily routine, and that sometimes fighting back makes things more dangerous, I do not believe it is effective to live in fear or to encourage women to live in fear or not defend ourselves. I think that perpetuates an idea that women are powerless, which then encourages women to freeze up when encountered with violence or even conflict. I think trusting our instincts and learning martial arts is probably more productive.

And teaching men not to rape.

That seems like the approach this book takes, though it more directly simply reflects, with appropriate outrage, on the levels of male contempt for women. And I think in that way, in the way it is directed to men, it is about how gross contempt for women is, whether it takes the form of self-absorption or sadism.

This book is smart. It is symmetrical in its execution in many ways: in starting and ending with Blomkvist’s corporate corruption story, and in the way it shows men and women accused of race whoring, men and women subjected to violence. The juxtaposition of is really well played. It is viscerally grotesque in the contrast, and it highlights the theme of consent. It was physically difficult for me to read, especially in the contrast, and I thought that made it very effective.

Salander’s character, too, is smart. She is both the outcast that women are when we fight back, and she is something of the misunderstood-bad-boy hero turned girl. I liked that. When she . It bothers me when a storyteller starts to let a girl save a guy, but really she only tosses him the gun to save himself. Salander gets some real action and some real credit, and it is satisfying.

Ultimately, it is pretty clear, but not laughing in your face, just resigned, Larsson knows . The hatred we condemn in this book, though, manifests as violence, and I can get behind featuring that and then fading out to Cicilia’s father condemning her as a whore and Blomkvist’s blissful self-absorption. It is a meaningful gradation. But, it is important that . And, aren’t we all assholes to each other a lot of the time? But not all of us get off on kneeing each other in the balls.

This struck me as a very masculine translation of male hatred of women and the way women navigate a world that tells us every time we turn a corner that it hates us. It seems like men either have considered what life would be like if they had been trained to fear leaving the house after dark, or they haven’t. And in my experience, it is difficult for men to understand a woman’s words if she tries to describe it, so I think it is important to have a man tell a story this way. I do see how the graphic descriptions of sadistic violence against women might allow a sadistic audience to read only for that, but the fact that Larsson balances this with graphic violence against men neutralizes the gender-hatred aspect of that to me. And if you are reading these books for the violence, see a psychiatrist, but I don’t think it is productive to censor descriptions of violence just because someone fucked up might get off on them. And if you think these descriptions are fantastical exaggerations, go spend some time at your local women’s shelter. Unfortunately, I think you will find you are wrong. And I don't think it does anybody any good to be afraid to tell these stories.

protesters holding a sign that says 'don't tell your daughter not to go out, tell your son to behave properly'

I hated the writing in this book a lot. Like, I hated it a lot. It both hit a lot of pet peeves of mine and it was just objectively bad in a lot of places. I don’t have a problem with books being badly written if the writing doesn’t get in the way of a good story, but here the writing was waiving its hands in my face the whole time trying to get me to lose the story. The sandwiches! OH TEH SANDWICHES! I wonder how much tourism for Sweden Larsson drummed up by the sandwich descriptions. I hope none because gag. I can see how he created the effect of an investigatory report through the writing, so, I think it is intentionally the way it is, but it was a choice I did not enjoy at all. So, overall this was a very unpleasant book to read, but it was smart, and its smartness outweighed its unpleasantness in my evaluation.

It is always kind of a funny experience to read your own words as someone else would write them. In every Willa Cather novel I have read, there has been a moment where I’ve read something and thought, “I just said that last week!!!” It was funny in Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: I wanted to high five Salander all the time because I would think her dialogue right before I read it. I imagine everyone in the world has told me to read this book because of the times I say, “Oh, another man who hates women.” Or that it is bullshit to say someone had a violent childhood, so of course he had to be violent against women as an adult. So, it was funny to read somebody else say those words. At the same time, Salander felt like a man recording the facts of what he saw a woman do and say once, not like a living, breathing human character. That doesn’t take away from the smartness of the book, but it is another reason my actual enjoyment factor was low.

Also, I had to go buy pickles yesterday because reading about so many of them gave me a craving. I hope Larsson’s estate got some sponsorship money from the sandwich and pickle lobbies.
Profile Image for Madeline.
781 reviews47.8k followers
January 26, 2012
After having leaped onto the bandwagon with the rest of everyone, I feel a certain amount of pretentious indie pride saying that I wasn't as awed by this book as everyone else apparently was. Which is not to say that the book wasn't enjoyable and exciting; it just didn't knock my socks off whilst simultaneously blowing my mind and rocking my world. (that sounds like either some great song lyrics or a very complicated sexual maneuver. Let's go with the first option.)

So, the good stuff: the main story - a disgraced journalist is hired by a rich old man to write a book about said man's crazy rich family, while secretly working to discover truth behind the disappearance and supposed murder of the man's granddaughter. Also in play is Lisbeth Salander, a freelance investigator who also happens to be one of the best hackers in Sweden. She also happens to be made of awesome, but I'll get to that later.
The journalist is investigating a supposed murder (a body was never found, so no one even knows what happened to the girl), so violence is expected. I just wasn't quite prepared for just how intensely graphic the violence is. There's a lot of stuff dealing with assault, rape, and murder of various women. There is also a lot of sex in the book, and the stuff that gets described in the most detail is definitely not consensual and will probably make you very uncomfortable. You've been warned.
The investigation itself is pretty fascinating, implausible as it is that some random guy investigating a disappearance that took place 40 years ago was able to find out completely new leads that weren't found by the police or the girl's grandfather (who's been obsessing about the case since forever), but I digress. The family itself is equal parts interesting, creepy, and frustrating. It's not until the journalist (Blomkvist) teams up with Lisbeth that things get really interesting, and they made such a fun team I wanted them to get their own detective show.
The book deals mainly with crimes against women and those who commit them. Larsson obviously feels very passionately about this subject, as well as what should be done with the men who assault women. Without giving anything away, rest assured that every bad guy rapist/murderer/whatever gets a large helping of tasty justice.

And now for the bad stuff:
-There's a lot of nattering on about business and computers and journalism and more business stuff that either bored me or went over my head completely.
-Larsson cannot seem to decide whether he wants to refer to people by their last name or their first name, so he switches back and forth and it is confusing.
-A family tree is provided at the beginning of the book, since the family the journalist is investigating (the Vangers) is pretty big, but I never had much trouble keeping everyone straight. A map of the island the family compound is located on would have been much more helpful, since I never really figured out the geography of the place.
-Pointless details. I don't need to know what the characters ate for every single meal, I don't need to know exactly what model of computer/motorcycle/car a character uses, and I definitely don't need to know what each character is wearing at every moment of the day. Larsson is especially guilty of this when Lisbeth is concerned - I guess he decided we wouldn't understand what a unique counterculture tough chick she is unless we know that she's always wearing leather jackets, boots, torn jeans, and black t-shirts with angry slogans. (yes, Larsson actually tells us what each of Lisbeth's t-shirts says.) Listen, Stieg: Lisbeth is awesome. She is wonderfully defined simply through her own actions and thoughts - we don't even need the other characters constantly reminding us how antisocial and tough and uncommunicative and badass she is. Believe me, we can see that. Show don't tell etc.

To sum up, I'm going to give the last word to the book itself, and quote a sentence that's actually a character talking about a book featured towards the end of the story - but it could easily describe Larsson's book:
"It was uneven stylistically, and in places the writing was actually rather poor - there had been no time for any fine polishing - but the book was animated by a fury that no reader could help but notice."

That, in a nutshell, was how I felt about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

UPDATE: I just watched the film version of this book (the original Swedish one, thank you verra much), and am adding this to my "the movie is better" shelf. Not that the book isn't good; it's just that the movie streamlines the story and gets rid of everything I complained about earlier in this review. In the movie, all the minor characters and business-drama babble has been eliminated, Erika and Mikael's weird three-way relationship is thankfully unmentioned, Mikael never boffs Cecilia Vanger, and Noomi Rapace is so fucking cool as Lisbeth I can't even handle it. I'm also pretty sure they took some stuff from The Girl Who Played With Fire and put it in the movie, because there's some stuff about Lisbeth's past that I don't remember from the book.

UPDATE UPDATE: Having now seen the American remake, and re-watched the Swedish version, I have come to a following decision. While the American version is, in a technical sense, a better movie (Fincher is a much better director - for just one example, the scene where Henrik Vanger explains the circumstances of Harriet's disappearance is a masterful example of show-don't-tell), I dislike the changes they made to the ending, and I simply cannot accept Rooney Mara as Lisbeth. Although I'm proud of Fincher & Co. for making her look and act as weird as the character should, something about her portrayal still wasn't right. If you're interested, this article explains pretty much every complaint I have about American Lisbeth.
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,587 reviews10.8k followers
October 25, 2018
I re-read this book by audio and even though the narrator was good, he didn't do a good job on Lisbeth's voice. I wish that Noomi Rapace would have done her own voice. That would have been awesome.

So, I have been a fan of this series for quite some time. I have the movie trilogy box set of the books that are fan freaking tastic! Although, now I have to switch from dvd to blu-ray! I also have a couple of different copies of the books!

Lisbeth Salander is just freaking awesome. She's so bloody smart, I wish I was as smart as her and could be an awesome hacker like her too. Lol. I freaking loved when she got back at the b@stard who raped her as well. Wheewwwww, if only everyone could get that kind of revenge on their rapist. Oh, happy day!

There are other things going on in the book but the main story line is about an uncle wanting to find out what happened to his niece, Harriet. He ends up hiring Mikael Blomkvist to find out what happened. Then Mikael gets lucky to have Lisbeth help him.

Do these two find out some secrets! Mikael almost gets killed a time or two. Makes you wonder what all they are hiding!

And of course, it's a big ole nasty secret. Why am I not surprised. It was just as hard to read about the second time around. Of course, there were other scenes that I had to skim through again, but I digress.

If you haven't wandered into the world that is Lisbeth Salander, what are you waiting for? And try and watch the movie trilogy. They used to have it on Netflix, that is where I originally watched them and then went straight to Amazon to buy them. Yes, they are that good as well as the books.

Happy Reading!

Mel ❤️
Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,451 reviews11.4k followers
March 5, 2010
The original Swedish title of this book is "Men Who Hate Women." If you ask me, it suits this story much better than catchier but less relevant "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," because it is in fact about men doing all kinds of horrid things to women. So here is the first warning to you, if you don't handle violence against women and children well, skip this novel.

It's hard to give a short synopsis of the book. "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" starts off as an investigation of a 40-year old disappearance of a teenage heiress, but gradually morphs into a tale of serial murder and corporate trickery spanning several continents and later takes in complicated international financial fraud and the buried evil past of a wealthy Swedish industrial family.

I found this book extremely engaging and full of action and came to regret many times that I had an audio version instead of a regular paper book. I also enjoyed immensely the amount details about everything - the publishing business, twisted Swedish family, corporate crime, history and political order of Sweden, etc. I am guessing if you don't care to read about any of this subjects, this book is not for you, because it is packed with this information.

My only qualm about this book, a small one, was the characterization. The character of Mikael Blomkvist smelled of a male wish fulfillment fantasy, the one where a man is adored by all women, gets laid all the time and always gets lauded for his stellar bedroom skills. Lisbeth Salander also felt a little shaky and I thought Asberger's decease didn't quite account for her strange personality. I thought her antisocial behavior was inconsistent.

This however didn't spoil my reading experience. I am eager to move on to "The Girl Who Played with Fire" and see what Mikael and Lisbeth are up to next.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,770 reviews1,176 followers
October 24, 2021
2019 review: An aging industrialist is looking to solve the riddle of a lifetime, looking to uncover a mystery from decades ago. He takes on a journalist with a honourable heart, and a record of trying to take on the dark-side of corporate Sweden; and then there's the diminutive, asocial, delinquent and frankly dangerous girl with a tattoo; chance, fate, destiny who knows, but somehow these two very determined and very stubborn people are brought together with this mystery to solve.

On third(!) reading. I found this still the greatest modern crime fiction I've ever read. Some of the most complex and multi-faceted characterisations ever printed; simply one of the most assured, dynamic and breath taking debuts of a female character... Lizbeth, who is an astoundingly real and beautiful creation; the story itself may have a bit too much detail for some, but Blomkvist is an investigative journalist and we get so much payback for the initial first 100-pages+ financial shenanigans' detail, as the book progresses. And on a personal note the uncompromising overview on how many men and society itself treat women is integral; it is so important and essential to this read, and is done in such a way that it is not rammed down our throats; and I love even more the totally uncompromising, there are no grey areas' view of Lizbeth on this issue too. For me, this will always be such an immensely satisfying read :)

My 2009 review: 'The best crime story I have ever read. Absolute genius, a critique of the abuse of personal and financial power and the day-2-day abuse of women in a so-called modern society , interwoven with the story of the heart breaking, but heroic title character; a dynamite business family saga; and a captivating investigation. 11 out of 12'

My 2010 review: Still the best crime fiction story that I have ever read… dropped a point in consideration that the wrap up of the Harriet Vangar affair was a bit of a let-down in the context of such a great read. 10 out of 12
4 reviews
November 13, 2008
I HATED this book. I don't understand all of the good reviews that are coming in on it. I hated the characters, the plot was thin - ugh. I can't believe I read the whole thing.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,542 reviews51.9k followers
April 9, 2022
I wish I could reread this from its original language. But I have to thank the translators who had done marvelous job for bringing out this unforgettable, one of my all time favorite series!

I remember the first time I dive into this trilogy ( I don’t count the other released books as part of this breathtaking installment, in my opinion the series also died with its brilliant author). I was working on a script and I couldn’t sleep at night so I decided to read a few pages and go to bed. As you may guess I couldn’t go to bed for three days and called sick to read more!

This is definitely dark, extremely bleak, twisty, WTF I just read kind of earth shattering story with graphic violence, sex. So it’s not every reader’s cup of tea! But when you get into it, you cannot stop reading. It’s gripping, fast, outstandingly riveting! You are literally drawn into the books and you never want them end.
Lisbeth Salander might be one of the most complex, anti heroine we truly connect. Mikael Blomkvist: ambitious, idealist publisher of Millennium Magazine reminds us of the author of the book.

You may also check out Swedish movie adaptations: Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth, Michael Nyqvist ( RIP) are brilliant! ( They are even better than Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara)

I absolutely recommend you to read all three books at one time. Don’t worry about the long pages or cancelling your entire plans. It’s the best thrilling ride you may get! I’m getting my second round with them after 14 years later. I’m still having amazing time! Best way to enjoy your weekend! Cheers!
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
3,087 reviews10.7k followers
April 20, 2015
Disgraced journalist Mikael Blomkvist is hired to solve the decades-old murder of Harriet Vanger, member of one of the wealthiest families in Sweden. Aided by a tattooed, antisocial hacker named Lisabeth Salander, Blomkvist unearths horrible skeletons lurking in the Vanger family closet...

For a few years now, I've been avoiding The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Since so many people told me I just had to read it, many of them non-readers, I assumed it was a lot of over-hyped, dumbed-down crap. Well, I may have been wrong. All hype aside, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a damn good book and I feel it goes beyond just being a mystery.

Larsson creates some memorable characters. We've got Mikael Blomkvist, the tarnished journalist, Lisabeth Salander, bad ass hacker, for the leads, both multidimensional characters. Neither are by any means perfect but I liked them just the same. The Vanger family and the staff of the Millennium aren't as well drawn as the leads but Ericka Berger and some of the Vangers are good characters in their own right.

I'll be honest. It took a little while for me to get moving but I was enthralled pretty early on. You wouldn't have thought I'd be that interesting in what could have been a tedious subject to read about, namely researching family archives for hints. Somehow Larsson managed to grab me, though.

There isn't a lot of violence but what there is is pretty brutal. The hacking was pretty well done and not completely unbelievable. I guess what really sold the book for me was that I really believed in the characters. Both of them are pretty flawed but completely believable.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't have a some complaints. Aside from the pace, I felt like Larsson threw in some needless details. I didn't need to know the brands of a lot of products or what the characters were eating. I also thought that Mikael Blomkvist being a sort of James Bond in regard to the ladies was a tad unbelievable. Honestly, those are my only two complaints I can think of at the moment.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo deserves a lot of the hype it gets. Now go out and read it if you haven't already!

Edit: I'm marking this down because I'm reading In the Woods and enjoying it more than I enjoyed this. I was kind of a whore with my 5s in past years.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,564 reviews149 followers
September 24, 2021
Män Som Hatar Kvinnor = Men Who Hate Women = The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1), Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is a psychological thriller novel by Swedish author and journalist Stieg Larsson (1954–2004), which was published posthumously in 2005 to become an international bestseller. It is the first book of the Millennium series.

In December 2002, Mikael Blomkvist, publisher of the Swedish political magazine Millennium, loses a libel case involving allegations about billionaire industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström.

Blomkvist is sentenced to three months (deferred) in prison, and ordered to pay hefty damages and costs.

Soon afterwards, he is invited to meet Henrik Vanger, the retired CEO of the Vanger Corporation, unaware that Vanger has checked into his personal and professional history; the investigation of Blomkvist's circumstances has been carried out by Lisbeth Salander, a brilliant but deeply troubled researcher and computer hacker.

Vanger promises to provide Blomkvist with evidence against Wennerström in return for discovering what happened to Vanger's grandniece, Harriet, who disappeared in 1966 during a family gathering at the Vanger estate on Hedeby Island, when the island was temporarily cut off from the mainland by a traffic accident on the bridge.

Blomkvist moves to the island and begins to research the Vanger family history and Harriet's disappearance.

As he does so, he meets most of the remaining Vanger clan, including Harriet's brother Martin, current CEO of the company; Isabella, Martin and Harriet's mother; and Cecilia, a headmistress who was Harriet's younger aunt and friend.

Meanwhile, Salander's legal guardian Holger Palmgrem suffers a stroke, and is replaced by Nils Bjurman, who uses his position to extort sexual acts from her and eventually rapes her.

After using a hidden camera to record her assault, Salander takes her revenge, torturing Bjurman and threatening to ruin him unless he gives her full control of her life and finances.

She then uses a tattoo machine to brand him as a rapist. ...

عنوانهای چاپ شده در ایران: «دختری با نشان اژدها»؛ «دختری با خالکوبی اژدها»؛ «دختری که رازی کهنه را آشکار کرد»؛ عنوان سوئدی: «مردانی که از زنان نفرت دارند»؛ نویسنده: استیگ لارسن (لارسون)؛ تاریخ نخستین خوانش روز بیست و هفتم ماه جولای سال 2012میلادی

عنوان: دختری با خالکوبی اژدها - کتاب اول؛ نویسنده: استیگ لارسن (لارسون)؛ مترجم اصغر اندرودی؛ کرج، در دانش، 1389؛ در 620ص؛ شابک9789641741299؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان سوئد - سده 20م

عنوان: دختری با خالکوبی اژدها؛ نویسنده: استیگ لارسن (لارسون)؛ مترجم: شیما دلدوزی؛ تهران، نشر گستر، 1389؛ در 508ص؛ شابک9786005883244؛

عنوان: دختری با نشان اژدها؛ نویسنده: استیگ لارسن (لارسون)؛ مترجم: شرکت رایان فراسو؛ تهران، سروش گستر، 1390؛ در 485ص؛ شابک9786006369020؛

عنوان: دختری با نشان اژدها؛ نویسنده: استیگ لارسن (لارسون)؛ مترجم: علی منصوری؛ قم، بهمن آرا، 1391؛ در 715ص؛ شابک9786006013091؛

عنوان: دختری با نشان اژدها؛ نویسنده: استیگ لارسن (لارسون)؛ مترجم: آزاده حیدریان؛ تهران، چکاوک پگاه، 1393؛ در 670ص؛ شابک9786006013091؛

عنوان: دختری که رازی کهنه را آشکار کرد - کتاب اول؛ نویسنده: استیگ لارسن (لارسون)؛ مترجم: میترا کیوان مهر؛ تهران، نشر قطره، 1394؛ در704ص؛ شابک 9786001196324؛

رمان «مردانی که از زنان نفرت دارند»؛ رمانی دلهره‌ آور، و جنایی است؛ که توسط نویسنده و روزنامه‌ نگار «سوئدی»، «استیگ لارسن» نوشته شده، و نخستین کتاب از سری سه‌ گانه ی «هزاره» است، که در سال 2005میلادی، یک سال پس از درگذشت ناگهانی نویسنده اش، در «سوئد» منتشر گردید؛

داستان با جریانی مرموز و دل انگیز آغاز می‌شود؛ «هنریک ونگر» صنعتگری بازنشسته و هشتاد ساله، «میکائیل بلومکویست» را، که پژوهشگر، روزنامه‌ نگار، و ویراستار مجله‌ ای به نام «هزاره» است، و به تازگی پرونده‌ ای را در شرا��ط بسیار بد، از دست داده، برای پژوهش درباره ی ناپدید شدن خواهرزاده ی خویش «هریئت»، که چهل سال پیش ناپدید شده، استخدام می‌کند؛ «ونگر» پیش از استخدام «بلومکویست» پیشینه ی شخصی و حرفه‌ ای او را بررسی کرده؛ «هریئت» از جزیره‌ ای، که بیشتر آن، مال خانواده ی «ونگر» بوده، ناپدید شده؛ «بلومکویست» با وجود تردیدی که داشت، پس از آنکه «هنریک ونگر» به او، بیش از دو میلیون «کرونور» را پیشنهاد کرد، در قبال نوشتن کتاب تاریخ خانوادگی «ونگر»ها، کار روی پرونده را پذیرفت؛ «ونگر» باور داشت «هریئت»، که سی و شش سال پیش ناپدید شده، توسط یکی از اعضای خانواده ی‌ خودش به قتل رسیده؛ او به «بلومکویست» گفت: «من از بیشتر اعضای خانواده خود بیزار هستم، چون بیشتر آن‌ها دزد، خسیس، قلدر و بی کفایت هستند»؛ پس از این ماجرا «بلومکویست» به جزیره میرود، و پژوهش خود را درباره ی خانواده «ونگر»، و ناپدید شدن «هریئت» در آنجا آغاز میکند؛ اما ... ادامه ی ماجرا؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 17/07/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ 01/07/1400هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for El.
1,355 reviews497 followers
January 14, 2012
He slapped her hard. Salander opened her eyes wide, but before she could react, he grabbed her by the shoulder and threw her on to the bed. The violence caught her by surprise. When she tried to turn over, he pressed her down on the bed and straddled her.

That's just to give you a little taste of what one is dealing with by picking up this book. If you can handle that and the previous x amount of paragraphs and the following x amount of paragraphs, you're golden. If that sort of makes that thing in your throat rise up a little bit and make your mouth taste sour, you might reconsider reading this book.

Carry on.

I wasn't going to read this book, ever. But then I saw the theater up the street from me (a cool one that plays those indie and art films, and their popcorn is always sort of either stale or slightly burnt, and the employees all have an air of snootiness - it's one of my favorite places in town) is showing the foreign movie. My first thought was, "When did they make a movie of this book?" My second thought was, "Dammit. I sort of want to see that movie." My third thought was, "Sonsofbitches. I can't see it until I read it." (Yes, I'm hard on myself, thanks.) So last weekend when we went out of town I decided it was the best time to purchase it and read it. The mini-break was going to entail my boyfriend spending hours playing guitars with his brother and then later with his BFF, and his brother's fiance and his BFF's wife were all conveniently elsewhere for the most part, so I had the fantastic opportunity to tag along and not have to do a damn thing. I sat on the couch/futon/floor and read. I read a freaking lot. This was the book I had along to read.

It passed the time. It didn't bore me. It held my attention.

And... that's about it.

It didn't turn my world upside down, or even teeter it necessarily. This is what I like to refer to as a nice popcorn read. I didn't have to give it a lot of thought, the story sort of did the work for me, I was just an innocent and willing bystander. I actually got a little annoyed the few times when it felt like I was beginning to have to work. Like figuring out who the hell Larsson was talking about at any given moment - he was apparently one of those authors who liked to use a character's first name in one sentence and then refer to the same character by their last name in the next sentence. What's up with that? Make a freaking decision and stick with it. Eventually I stopped caring so much.

My biggest annoyance with the book (and likely to be the most offense to lovers of this book who stumble across my humble review here) was not the violence and the rape; it actually was Lisbeth Salander. The female protagonist. Okay, so she's cool. I get that. She's Hotty-McHotterson, all corporate and world-weary and a computer hacker to boot. She's pierced and inked, and for some reason this is such a source of fascination for Larsson (and apparently everyone who reads this book). Every time Salander comes into the story there is a mention about her piercings, her surly attitude, her tough clothes, her tattoos. At one point another character counts her tattoos. Six. Six. This apparently contributes to some point Larsson was trying to make that Salander is a social freak, but he's still clearly obsessed with the image of her. For the record, numerous piercings, surly attitudes, tough clothes and six tattoos sums up just about every female I know. It's not all that bizarre. This is, after all, the 21st century. Anyone who lived through the 80s/90s either embodies all of those things or at least doesn't bat an eyelash at those things in others. Maybe it's different in Sweden. Maybe they're just now getting the whole dyed-hair-pierced-faces-crazy-tattoos craze there. Wow. Way to go, Sweden. Maybe if you all hadn't spent the last 30 years listening to ABBA and Europe obsessively, you might actually not find kick-ass girls in boots all that magical.

All of these unfair generalizations aside, I can honestly say that I read this book and I'm not all that excited about it. I'm not dying to read the next one, but I'm sure I will eventually (probably if they make a movie of it too). I'm certainly not waiting with bated breath for the third book in the trilogy to come out. I guess I'm just not that fascinated by Salander in particular, so I don't really care what happens to her next. Maybe the movie will make me feel differently. We'll see.

ETA (01/14/12): I have since read The Girl Who Played with Fire which I enjoyed more than this first book, though my impression of Lisbeth hadn't changed that much. I have also seen the Hollywood version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which I liked more than the book because the performances were fantastic, Fincher is a wonderful director, and I felt like the characters could breathe which is something I felt they were unable to do in the book because they were so constricted and pigeon-holed.
Profile Image for Riku Sayuj.
658 reviews7,301 followers
February 3, 2014

Larsson takes what seemed at the outset to be a juicy 'locked-island-mystery plot' and turns it first into an insightful family saga and then into a scathing political and social commentary that forces us to think about such a wide variety of themes and aspects that we normally refuse to accept as part of society. It takes an author like Larsson to shove it in our faces in all its stinking ugliness for us to stop turning the blind eye at these atrocities.

Do not mistake this for a mere fictional work with imagined crimes. It has firm foundations in reality. In my opinion, the whole plot is a thin wrap-sheet thrown around the brutal truths of real crimes. Larsson has extensive knowledge of the most heinous crimes and he has written extensively about them for his entire professional career. This expertise shows through in his description of such acts of unimaginable cruelty with an almost nonchalant objectivity, with a careless leaving out of the gory details and focus on the trivial aspects of the act that sends shivers down our spine.

Larsson uses his investigative style of presentation and his two main characters and an extremely dysfunctional family to work in an amazing variety of potent themes into his first book. I cannot wait to see what he’ll do in the second one. Some of the themes explored in detail are:

Online Privacy

This is not part of the plot but Larsson seems to be sending out a warning about how deadly information can be in the wrong hands and how easily accessible any private info about you stored in digital form is. You are exposed and absolutely naked to a determined digital assault and there is nothing you can do about it. Of course in the novel it is never misused but the threat is always hanging in the air - if an uneducated girl and her friends can get the most private information about the most protected individuals in the country, what kind of a world are we heading into? And is it really bad? Food for thought...


No matter which way you look at it, this work will have to defined as one of the most wrathful outcries against society's attitude towards women. The entire story is about the enormous acts of cruelty committed against women and the absolute indifference to it by everyone who is supposed to care. It is also about the different responses that these women have in such an uncaring society. Which brings us to the most important theme of the book in my opinion:

Morality and Allocation of Blame

The book is truly about three paths that a victim can take after an abused childhood.

One of the characters suffers abuse and decides to become an abuser himself and embrace it as a fact of life

The second one suffers abuse and decides to run away from that life and live faraway and sheltered. No attempt is made to punish the abuser or to report it.

The third character too suffers abuse but decides to confront it and return it with a vengeance. No violence or abuse is tolerated and any reaction is justified for this character.

The fourth is the invisible character of what we expect a person to do in such a situation - report it, seek help from the authorities who are supposed to protect them. The society around and the grim reality that prompted the book gives the outcome to this course of action.

Now the key point to me was that Larsson does not condemn any of them - he makes different characters speak in defense for each of these responses and lets us wonder about which course can ever be called right. in the end he manages to condemn both the society as a whole as well as us, the individuals who allow the society to be so. A caricature of morality.

Law, Crime & BDSM

Larsson's extensive knowledge about the worst forms of crime and the procedure of law allows him to give a gruesome reality to what we usually consider to be just sadistic fiction. He convinces the reader that it is real and all around us if we only cared enough to look.

Nazi History, Military Training, Religious Extremism & Apologetics

These are also touched upon at various points in the books and provides a background, especially of Swedish Nazism, from which the excuses for all the real crimes in the books could spring from.

Journalistic (Professional) Ethics

This too is quite obviously one of the favorite topics for Larsson and it forms a strong undercurrent throughout the book and comes to a head with the firm conviction of the lead character that he is finally a corrupt journalist. He is reassured that he has done the right thing by choosing between being a professional and being a human being. But we as the readers, the character and the author, all know that this is not remotely convincing. Justice was meted out selectively and subjectively in the end and even though it feels right, that is only because of personal knowledge. Is that enough?

Financial & Economic Commentary, Industrial Espionage and Hacker-lore

Large parts of the book goes into great detail about industrial politics and machinations and is sometimes quite boring to be frank, but it adds credence to the plot and has to be borne out. The elaborate hacker methodology too is a drag at times but remains mostly interesting and strangely disturbing.

The financial interplay and the economic commentary sounds a bit forced but Larsson still manages to give out some forceful ideas such as:
“We’re experiencing the largest single drop in the history of the Swedish stock exchange—and you think that’s nonsense?”

“You have to distinguish between two things—the Swedish economy and the Swedish stock market. The Swedish economy is the sum of all the goods and services that are produced in this country every day. There are telephones from Ericsson, cars from Volvo, chickens from Scan, and shipments from Kiruna to Skövde.

That’s the Swedish economy, and it’s just as strong or weak today as it was a week ago.” He paused for effect and took a sip of water.

“The Stock Exchange is something very different. There is no economy and no production of goods and services. There are only fantasies in which people from one hour to the next decide that this or that company is worth so many billions, more or less. It doesn’t have a thing to do with reality or with the Swedish economy.”

“So you’re saying that it doesn’t matter if the Stock Exchange drops like a rock?”

“No, it doesn’t matter at all,” Blomkvist said in a voice so weary and resigned that he sounded like some sort of oracle.

His words would be quoted many times over the following year.

Family & Incest

What it means to be a family and the inevitable nature of family relationships too seem to haunt Larsson and he gives free reign to his fears and troubles about family life, incest, indifference and corporate life affecting personal relations. He also asks the question of whether we can ever truly judge a person based on corporate success without knowing his relationships with his family and his personal life.

There are probably other important ones that I have failed to mention but these were, in my opinion, the things that the book was meant to shine a torchlight on.

On The Characters

I found this in an interview with Larsson and it captures the enigma of the two amazing main characters:
“I considered Pippi Longstocking,” he said, referring to the most famous creation of the Swedish children’s author Astrid Lindgren, a girl so strong she could carry a horse. “What would she be like today? What would she be like as an adult? What would you call a person like that, a sociopath? Hyperactive? Wrong. She simply sees society in a different light. I’ll make her 25 years old and an outcast. She has no friends and is deficient in social skills. That was my original thought.” That thought evolved into Larsson’s formidable heroine, Lisbeth Salander.

But he felt Salander needed a counterweight if his story was to be a success. Once again he turned to one of Lindgren’s characters, this time to Kalle Blomkvist, boy detective. “Only now he’s 45 years old and a journalist [called Mikael Blomkvist]. An altruistic know-it-all who publishes a magazine called Millennium. The story will revolve around the people who work there.”

Personal Impressions

While I loved the book wholeheartedly, I still had a few unfavorable impressions:

Some of the side characters are a bit sketchy not fully realized. Especially some of the family members including Martin who did not get a gradual transition that a character like him deserved for maximum impact.

The stylistically simple nature of the chapters and the book structure too takes away from the sophistication of the detail and plot. A bit more variety in the technique than a simple shift-of-perspective would have been better and less obvious. Also the tension eases off at all the wrong moments, primarily because Larsson has given a portent of things to come later too easily for a whodunnit. The pace too is not consistent and we spend a lot of time seeing scenery and almost every chapter opens with making coffee or with long uneventful walks.

In the end, the reader does not get the pleasure of a proper whodunnit as there were no hidden clues spread across the book and in spite of homages throughout the book to masters of crime and mystery fiction, Larsson at some point decided to make his book not fit to the thrill of that genre and moved instead to far more sinister territories.

The last section of the book felt much like a filler and had way too much detail and predictable action and could just as well have been left to the reader's imagination. The long winding down has put me off from any tension that would have made me run for the second book immediately. Now that everything is calm and quiet in the Millennium world, I too can take an idyllic break from it all...

A good editor and more time to polish would have made this into a definite modern masterpiece, which I strongly suspect it to be already. But in spite of the flaws we still have an opus and some unforgettable characters that will stay with us for a long time to come.

One Final Note:

All the villains have a Windows PC and all the heroes have an Apple notebook. Splendid thing to use in a book about corporate morality among other things. I think this tipped the scales for the book to be a bestseller!
Profile Image for Nataliya.
855 reviews14.2k followers
January 20, 2022
Thanks to the slew of Swedish and Hollywood movies, everyone knows that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a story of a kickass hacker Lisbeth Salander who has the eponymous tattoo and a knack for solving decades-old murders.

Well, not exactly. Lisbeth is awesome and badass, no doubt there, but this book is so much more than just her story, and focusing solely on that undermines the message Stieg Larsson was sending.

The original Swedish title is Men Who Hate Women and it is precisely what the story is about. (*)
* I am pretty sure it received its Book Witness Protection Program name change treatment to avoid being seen as "that feminist crap" in the English-speaking society. Where "feminist" sadly may still be viewed as an insult.
Apparently a teenage Larsson witnessed and failed to stop rape of a young woman. He was so affected by it that he wrote his magnum opus to make amends for the witnessed atrocity. Thus we have Men Who Hate Women, which is a short description of the focus of his entire Millenium series. Larsson speaks up - angrily, loudly, with conviction - on behalf of not just Salander but all women who have been marginalized, dismissed, paternalised, silenced, treated as inferior, treated as property, overlooked, infantilized, sexualized, assaulted, and murdered.

Larsson, like his protagonist Blomkvist, was an investigative journalist who specialized in airing out stuff that many "higher-ups" would want to see left alone. (**)
** To quote Terry Pratchett (all bow to his genius), "It's not worth doing something unless someone, somewhere, would much rather you weren't doing it."
This book is an angry and poignant social commentary on the right-wing extremism, prejudice, Nazi leanings, and of course misogyny that still permeate even the quintessential European paradise country of Sweden. Larsson condemns all this, and in his journalism-like style does not hold back the slightest bit. And it is often an uncomfortable read as we see and recognize all those little societal bits and conventions that make these prejudices and even violence possible.

Larsson may not be the most skillful writer, his prose may suffer from long-windedness and overabundance of details (seriously, at times it reads like a cross between a diary and a shopping catalog), but he has strong opinions on painful subjects and is not afraid to let them be known. He had this attitude both in his journalism and his fiction, and I applaud him for that. 3 stars only because of weak prose, but full marks for content.

Also posted on my blog.
Profile Image for Kelli Marko.
48 reviews20 followers
November 27, 2009
This is really a 1.5 stars. Ok, there was a good mystery during the middle third of the book. THere were alot of characters. There was suspense. AND there was also those first 200+ painful pages of character introduction and back story. That equals 1/3 of the whole book. Who slogged through those first 200 to find out that the mystery picks up? How did this series get so huge?

And there was also a plot that revolved around rape, violence, torture, murder and endless degredation of women. My question is: is this necessary to fictionalize? What do we gain from it?

Of the two main characters, only LisBeth Salander was a character that I cared about and wanted the best for. She also seemed crucial to the plot. Mikael "Kalle" Blomvquist had no character arc. He was not a dynamic character - just a detective with no growth or change.

I just didn't get it, but I slogged through for book club and the right of free expression!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Diane Wallace.
1,228 reviews76 followers
August 6, 2017
Loved it! an interesting,mystery filled and very thrill-seeking storyline..was well written,nice movie also... (paperback!)
Profile Image for Manny.
Author 34 books15k followers
September 15, 2010
One of the best thrillers I've ever read. Great story, great characters, very intelligent and thoughtful. Writing is nothing special but it doesn't need to be.


I finally saw the movie a couple of days ago, and I'm a bit conflicted. On the plus side, it conveys the feel of the book very well, and several of the main characters are excellently realized. I particularly liked Lisbeth, who was just perfect. But they have taken some enormous liberties with the story. For example, Erika, who in the book is a central figure, has almost disappeared.

So if you're a purist, you might want to avoid this, but in the end I decided I liked it. I guess it's just a bit too long, and cuts were necessary.


I just read the following passage in Precious Williams's review of this book, but I have seen at least half a dozen similar ones:
The constant references to sandwiches (you get the impression the Swedes eat at least an entire loaf of bread every day), coffee (how on earth do they manage to sleep?) and breasts became tedious very rapidly.
I can stay silent no longer. Precious and others, I lived in Sweden for most of the 80s, and I can tell that you Stieg Larsson wasn't making it up:

1. Sandwiches. Yes, you're right: Swedes love sandwiches. There's a widespread belief that eating bread is good for you. When I was there, I caught the tailend of a popular campaign by the Ministry of Health, whose tagline was Ät 6-8 skivor bröd om dagen - eat 6-8 slices of bread a day. Moreover, Swedish bread is delicious. I'm thinking about kruskalimpa and rågrut right now and my mouth is watering. If they were on sale here, I'd definitely eat more sandwiches.

2. Coffee. Swedes used to drink more coffee per capita than any other county in the world, though I understand that they've now slipped a couple of places. It's powerful stuff too, but you get used to it. Fun facts: Swedish has a verb fika, meaning "to drink coffee" and a noun, påtår, meaning "a second cup of coffee". You know, the old Eskimo/snow thing.

3. Breasts. Topless sunbathing is popular in Sweden, and Swedes are in general extremely relaxed about nudity. Swedish men have pretty much the same interests as men everywhere else in the world. If I were drunk I'd probably recount an anecdote or two at this point, but as it is I'm afraid you'll just have to take my word for it.

Profile Image for Anthony.
191 reviews14 followers
August 18, 2010
Not sure what all the hype was about. The first 1/3 of the book showed promise. Two seperate characters who will soon cross paths. Kind of classic mystery story telling. But then it has some moments of perversity that didn't really need to be in the story. Kind of creepy and weird. I guess there is not a lot to do in Sweden.
The second part they are together on an island trying to solve a mystery that was never really engaging. They had to find out what happened to a girl forty years ago. Wow! Exciting stuff. Oh and some family members were part of the Nazi party sixty years ago. Uh ok. Not sure why that is relevant but every good mystery needs a Nazi or two I'm sure. The story brings out more sexual darkness (I can see the tourist ads now for Sweden) and disolves into a weird sexual torture/homosexual/incest tale. No Beastiality? C'mon! I feel cheated!
The last 1/3 of the book was never really needed because the mystery is over and it basically takes the author 100 pages to wrap it up. Oh and we find out his longtime lover is into B&D and S&M. Why this is important? I have no idea. But it was important to Stieg. I like to call him Stieg because, even though he is dead, I feel that we are on a first name basis after the author uses "buttplug" in his book.
It was not that great of a book. I am shocked at all the great reviews. A girlfriend of mine agreed with all the problems I had with the book yet she still loved it. This seems to be the case with many book groups. Why? I don't understand admitting the book is crap but still loving it. The end results were not remotely believable. A woman comes off a sheep ranch where she has been living for the last forty years and immediately takes over a fortune 500 type company. Uh, ok? Characters were either tossed aside quickly (then why have them?) or never developed. Another reviewer mentioned the product placement. I did find it strange that the author seemed to have a Mac fetish among many others. Also, his main character is the self appointed moral watchdog of companies (because capitalism is evil I guess) yet can't keep his zipper zipped. This book did not encourage me to visit Sweden any time soon. Also, as an Elvis fan, I did not appreciate the last line in the book.
I just saw the Swedish film adaptation of the book and I actually enjoyed it. This was the first time I have ever said, "The film was better than the book." Now I hear there will be an American version. Which we all know will be crap.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for karen.
3,997 reviews171k followers
October 6, 2018
we are in low-three land here. but at least i am learning things about sweden! for example: ladies in sweden just kind of shrug off sexual abuse! they are rape-teflon! this i am learning from the facts provided at the beginning of chapters, and from various characters' reactions to events. they just brush themselves off and go back to eating sandwiches. yes, that is another thing i learned: the swedes eat sandwiches. exclusively. if you excise every occurrence of the words "coffee" and "sandwiches" from the text, you will be left with a book maybe half the size of what it is now. it is like larsson had some sort of writing tic that when he was stuck for what the characters should do next, he would just bang out, "eat sandwiches and coffee". sweden is overall a sexually permissive country - women will share their men with a "no harm done" attitude of complacency - there will be handshakes and smiles all around. and perhaps a sandwich! sweden's prisons are fun places where a guy can really get some rest before he goes back into the world to sex up some more ladies - consensually, of course. these are the wonders of sweden, as presented by the girl with the dragon tattoo.

so those constitute my "ughs"

i really just don't understand the mass appeal of this book. there are crimes committed in this book for no other reason than character development. that, to me, is an odd way to write a book. there is a density to the writing that is enjoyable, but the dénouement is incredibly abrupt, and then there is just... more story... true, it is a wrapping-up of another plotline, but the energy that should follow the big whodunit seems compromised by about fifty pages of ...more plot. the reader becomes emotionally invested in one storyline and intellectually invested in the other... after the emotional plot is spent, who wants to read a long subplot wrap-up? this is coming from someone who doesn't read a lot of mysteries, but knows how they should be shaped. and i rather liked the subplot wrap-up, but my attentions as a reader were confused.

questions i am forced to ask:
is the hype just because of author-death? and the mystique therein? because this guy ain't no mishima, is all i'm saying.
is there a distinction between autism and sociopathy?
what was the point of the character of cecelia?
are three facial piercings and 4 tattoos really considered to be that "weird" and excessive in sweden?

and while we are on the subject - i am so sick of hot-goth-computer-hacker characters. i was sick of it wayyyy back here:

and here:

and i don't even watch this show, but i am aware of it:

i announce:it is enough already. get a new cliché. like "average-build girl who sometimes listens to dave matthews". or "girl who dresses office-appropriate and sometimes smokes pot on weekends". cybergoth chicks are over, people...

the book is fine, i may or may not read the other ones - this one was for class, but now that i have read one, i am almost compelled to finish it off. this is the reason i don't usually read genre fiction. i cannot commit to 11 books, or whatever... but i may have just mentally committed to 2.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Paul Bryant.
2,292 reviews10.7k followers
May 28, 2014

Editorial meeting of Bryant Reviews Ltd
Topic : book 1, Millennium series

- Is everyone here?
- We should start anyway.
- Okay, well, we have to figure out how to review this damned Dragon Tattoo book. The problem is, everyone and his dog has already reviewed it, and seen the movie. Movies. What’s left to say?
- Well, you could say the same thing about Dickens.
- All due respect, Larsson is not no Dickens.
- True dat.
- True dat? Who are you, gangsta-reviewer?
- What about the sandwiches and coffee?
- ?
- You know, you could do a kind of parody, might be funny…
- It’s been done! Haven’t you read Joel’s review?
- Done!
- Done done done!
- Also, really, there weren’t that many sandwiches. I counted, there were 7. It’s a bit of a myth.
- That’s 7 more than most sane novelists describe in their novels. I bet you could scour the works of Henry James and not find a single sniff of a sandwich.
- That’s cause they only eat ptarmigan’s brains on a bed of rocket leaves in Henry James.
- What about the blatant product placement? I mean, I assume that’s what this is.
- Product placement in a novel? Can you do that?
- Well, listen to this bit :

She set her sights on the new Apple PowerBook G4/1.0 GHz in an aluminium case with a PowerPC. 7451 processor with an AltiVec Velocity Engine, 960 megs of R.A.M and a sixty-gig hard drive. It had Blue-Tooth and built-in CD and DVD burners. Page 202.

- Yep, that has to be product placement. It’s like right out of a sales brochure. Outrageous really.
- So did anyone like this thing?
- Oh sure. It was kind of okay.
- Okay?
- It’s a thriller, you know, it’s not A la recherché du Temps Tattoo. Also, it’s a serial killer thriller, where the victims are females chopped up in various horrible ways. So it’s a completely ordinary thriller. They say shit like “But for you I would be dead!” and “This can’t be brushed under the carpet!” and “Get out of my house this minute!”

(General laughter)

- What about Salamander?
- It’s Salander.
- Oh yeah, I did that too. Every time it said Salander I thought it said salamander, it was so crazy.
- She was a bit off the peg, didn’t you think?
- Yeah, it was like a central casting “hip edgy young female character”.
- I liked her.
- Everyone likes her. Okay, except you. You too? Okay, vote – who liked her? Okay, that’s three who did, so the rest of you didn’t. All right then, we’ll take a contrarian position on Salander. We’ll say, oh, I don’t know, utterly implausible, Manga cartoon, middle-aged guy’s fantasy girlfriend, the goth version of the manic dream pixie girl, you know, that kind of stuff.
- Agreed.
- What about the plot?
- It was just a big fat thriller so it had a big fat villain who was completely silly and an exciting denouement which I’ve been more excited going through a tunnel in a train to be brutally honest.
- Anybody else?
- Er… I felt slightly tense. Once.
- Oh, and did you notice it took like 80 pages to splutter into life and then another 50 pages after the story ended to wind down and go to sleep?
- Well look, there’s a deadline here, this review has to be done by Tuesday evening. Any volunteers?
- ….
- ….
- I’ll do it then
- Hey, thanks. And as your reward… you don’t have to read The Emo who Played with Fire or The Emo who Fucked Up the Beehive.
- Okay, I appreciate that.
- The rest of you watch it… I see any review slackness and Emo with the Beehive is coming right at you.

(General catcalling and ribaldry)

- Meeting adjourned.
Profile Image for ⊱ Sonja ⊰.
3,407 reviews525 followers
July 12, 2021
Der Großunternehmer Henrik Vanger bittet den Journalisten Mikael Blomkvist um Hilfe. Vangers Nichte Harriet verschwand vor knapp 40 Jahren spurlos. Seitdem bekommt Vanger jedes Jahr an seinem Geburtstag eine gepresste Blume hinter Glas geschenkt, so wie Harriet sie ihm damals als Kind immer geschenkt hatte. Versucht jemand, ihn in den Wahnsinn zu treiben? Vanger glaubt, dass Harriet ermordet wurde, und er ist sich sicher, dass der Täter in der eigenen Familie zu suchen ist. Jahrelang hat er alles getan, um dieses Rätsel zu lösen. Jetzt ist er 82 Jahre alt und sieht in Mikael Blomkvist seine letzte Chance. Der nimmt die Herausforderung an und beginnt mit seinen Recherchen, obwohl er anfangs überhaupt nicht damit rechnet, auf etwas zu stoßen...
Dieses Buch wurde so gelobt in den Medien, dass ich es unbedingt lesen wollte. Vermutlich waren meine Erwartungen aber zu hoch, denn anfangs war ich doch etwas enttäuscht, wie ich zugeben muss. Der Roman ist zwar durchweg interessant geschrieben, aber dennoch war der Anfang etwas zäh. Erst ab der Hälfte des Buches wurde es wirklich spannend für mich, und ab da konnte ich es dann aber auch nicht mehr aus der Hand legen. Die Handlung ist sehr durchdacht; die Personen alle glaubwürdig. Nun bin ich gespannt auf den zweiten Teil.
Profile Image for Lyn.
1,917 reviews16.9k followers
October 21, 2017
Nordic noir of the highest order and very entertaining.

Larsson’s 2005 Swedish publication Män som hatar kvinnor “Men Who Hate Women” was later translated and published in English in 2008 by Steven T. Murray, by that time already an international best-seller.

And for good reason.

Complicated, intricate, and intelligent, Larsson’s journalistic prose is crisp and logical. Filled with interesting characters, exciting scenes and this just flows very well.

Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander are two of the most interesting characters in recent fiction. Larsson’s great achievement, though, is not just in their creation, but in the dynamic chemistry he has fused between them.

One of the best accolades that can be given a work is that it was hard to put down, and that most definitely applies here. I can easily understand why it has become so popular.

Profile Image for Francesc.
465 reviews261 followers
July 30, 2021
Excelente novela.
He disfrutado mucho con su lectura.
Es un thriller que me ha atrapado enseguida y no he podido parar de leer.

Todos los personajes están muy bien construídos. Al detalle. Llegas a conocerlos íntimamente, con sus pulsiones, sus miedos, contradicciones, etc. Hay un retrato formidable.

La trama es compleja, llena de detalles, con una investigación larga y se desarrolla con energía y suspense.

Le falta intensidad al final, pero es imposible mantener el nivel durante tantas páginas.
Es muy difícil escribir una novela tan redonda con tantos datos.

Ya se ha dicho mucho y bueno de esta saga Millenium. Para mi, con merecimiento. Al menos, con esta primera entrega.

Excellent novel.
I enjoyed reading it very much.
It's a thriller that caught me right away and I couldn't stop reading.

All the characters are very well constructed. You get to know them intimately, with their drives, their fears, contradictions, etc. There is a formidable portrait.

The plot is complex, full of details, with a long investigation and develops with energy and suspense.

It lacks intensity at the end, but it is impossible to maintain the level for so many pages.
It is very difficult to write such a balanced novel with so much data.

Much good has already been said about this Millennium saga. For me, with merit. At least, with this first novel.
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