The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is a Swedish thriller/murder mystery about a bunch of old people having really awkward sex with each other for absolutely no reason whatsoever. Oh, and there's some chick with a dragon tattoo.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (originally titled "Men Who Hate Women" in Sweden- yes, really) is the story of Mikael Blomkvist, a Swedish journalist who founded his own investigative magazine, Millenium. He becomes involved in investigating a massive corporate scandal and is accused of libel and blah blah blah blah blah. You should know that this book describes every single mundane thing in existence in excruciating detail. It's boring. I DARE you to get through the first chapter of this book without falling asleep and drooling on the cover.
In a series of events way too drawn out to describe in detail here, Blomkvist leaves the magazine in shame after being found guilty of libel and is hired by a rich, retired industrialist- Henrik Vanger- to solve the dissappearance of his niece, Harriet, some 40 years prior. Before officially hiring Blomkvist, Henrik hires a private detective to check out his background. This detective is Lisbeth Salander, an eccentric computer hacker covered in piercings and tattoos. Somehow, the boring dragon tattoo on her back is important enough to name the entire novel after.
Blomkvist and Salander eventually cross paths and begin to uncover the truth about the Vanger family. Hijinks ensue.
The story's protagonist, as previously mentioned, is Mikael Blomkvist, a middle aged journalist who has a knack for stumbling into the most unnaturally written sex scenes in the history of fiction. He does this a lot. The plot will be moving along somewhat nicely, Mikael will be on the cusp of discovering another clue in Harriet's dissappearance, and then suddenly, without any sort of warning or any kind of sexual chemistry, he'll score with another saggy-boobed old woman (they all tend to be saggy-boobed old women). Then, back to solving mysteries!
Michael Blomkvist is going to wreck dat ass.
The story's other protagonist is SUPER COOL Lisbeth Salander, a hip 20-something expert computer hacker covered in piercings and tattoos. Stieg Larsson goes completely out of his way every time Lisbeth shows up in the book to make damned sure you know that SHE'S SO SUPER COOL, FOR REAL YOU GUYS. She's SO GOTH and SO MUCH COOLER THAN YOU and she DOESN'T TAKE SHIT FROM ANYBODY.
Strong Feminine Protagonist
In all honesty, Lisbeth is admittedly a really complex and well written character. She has a dark and violent past, and spent her adolescence in and out of psychiatric wards and foster homes. She has been declared incompetent by the government (which means she is incapable of taking care of herself), and is assigned a gaurdian to take care of her. However, the whole mentally-challenged silent girl thing is an act. While the government, on paper, classifies Salander as pretty much retarded (in the book's words), Lisbeth is actually extremely intelligent and more than capable of taking care of herself. She has a photographic memory and works with an underground network of computer hackers who frequently commit highly illegal cyber crimes. She also works as a freelance private investigator, despite being labeled useless by the government. The few people who've actually gotten to close to her know that she's incredibly gifted and is only anti-social because she chooses to be. The security firm she freelances for doesn't give two shits about her goverment status because they know she's a genius. Eventually, Blomkvist gets to know her as well (and yes, they randomly have sex for no reason).
The author, however, ruins her intrigue by going into detail about the SWEET GOTH STUFF she wears. Now, I'm not saying there's anything wrong with choosing to dress in gothic fashion. But Larsson over-enthusiastically makes sure to tell you how rebellious her look is supposed to make her, even going so far as to describe what eye-rolling phrase is printed on her t-shirt. You know, the kind you see at Hot Topic, worn by kids with absolutely no taste.
I'm not kidding. Here are a few examples from the book:
"I can be a regular bitch. Just try me."
"Armageddon was yesterday. Today we have a serious problem."
"Consider this a fair warning."
Really? We're supposed to believe this girl is on some higher-level of intelligence than everyone else? These sound like they came from a Garfield comic strip. Also, Lisbeth has experienced traumatic sexual abuse, both in her past and in the present story that takes place in the book. Thus, she has a strong conviction towards feminism and not letting "the man" tell her what a woman should- oh, she gets a boob job in the beginning of the second book? Nevermind.
So after trugding through such a detailed story, does it pay off in the end?
Does Mikael clear his reputation and save his magazine? Yep. Does he bring the businessman responsible for falsely accusing him of libel to justice? Kinda. The guy goes in to hiding and shoots himself. No pulse-pounding climactic showdown.
Do Mikael and Lisbeth find the person responsible for Harriet's disappearance? Yep. Do they bring him to justice? Nope- he flees from Lisbeth and drives himself in to oncoming traffic, committing suicide. They don't tell the authorites about the countless women he's raped, tortured, and murdered over the past four decades, in order to "respect Harriet's privacy."
Does Mikael find out what really happened to Harriet? Yep. Turns out she's been hiding out in Australia from the murderer- her brother. Why not just tell the authorities or the man she trusts most, her uncle Henrik? I dunno. Apparently hiding out in Australia for 40 years and allowing her beloved uncle to spend his final years worrying himself to death seemed like a better idea.
Do Mikael and Harriet begin a sexual relationship out of the blue in the second book? You betcha.
"Hey there Harriet. How 'bout you show me what you're hiding under that muumuu?"