Hey Read This… Thoughts on The Millenium Series

Posted on November 7, 2011

The Millenium Series by Stieg Larsson

The first rules of living on the fringes of society go as follows:

1. You do not like popular things.

2. You do not like popular things.

Which is why I resisted reading ‘The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo’ for so long. But divine providence came when I was staring down the barrel of an 18 hour drive (which I did in 16) with absolutely nothing to entertain me. So, I picked up TGWTDT on CD and zoomed off into the sunrise.

My god was  I riveted. I know I’m probably preaching to the choir but this was a great book. I didn’t want it to stop. I got out of the car brought nothing in except my laptop and the discs, ordered some General Tso’s chicken, did some yoga and tried to finish the book on tape (I fell asleep before that was possible and had to finish it up the next day).

It was not at all what I was expecting. It was so well written. I’m not even talking about the plot, which was stellar. But the way he created characters who were truly interesting (not-literary fiction interesting where people are interesting because they have wine in the tub, prefer jam next to their toast instead of on it and only eat the brown M&Ms) because they felt so real and seemed complicated and uncomplicated at the same time was extraordinary.

Then there were the descriptions. If there was any one criticism that many people made, it was that these slowed down the narrative. I felt quite the opposite. Larsson was painting a picture with words, something that is extremely rare in the thriller canon.

The one criticism I do have is that sadomasochism was treated as a choice. That the serial killer somehow chose that lifestyle after being taught it by his father.

That having been said, I’ll come back to the plot. There is only one word to describe it: perfect. The pacing is incredible. A womanizing reporter teaming up with a punk to bring down an establish industrial family from the inside? Heck yeah. There’s give. There’s take. There’s action interspersed by self reflection and mind-numbing minutia. Time stretches from months to seconds.

I was so blown away by it that I refused to acknowledge that I liked it for almost two weeks. I spent the better part of a 4 hour car ride talking about how it was the worst thing ever. It even drew comparisons to ‘Eat, Pray, Love.’ But I was wrong. So wrong. Nothing is that bad.

The second book was not quite as good. I read it practically overnight but it lacked the graundeur of the first one. Where was the high financial drama? Where were the graphic murders? Where was the mystery that needed solving? Come on, we all know that she didn’t do it. You can’t build a plot around that. It was still good. You should never write the same book twice but it just wasn’t the same.

And after all that, I’m not going to read the third one. Okay, I might, but here’s why I’m hesitant. 1) I don’t do courtroom dramas. The Natalee Halloway case was all I needed. Just kidding. 2) I already know what happens. I was an idiot and watched over my girlfriend’s shoulder when she was watching the last hour or so of the movie.

Here’s a fun afternoon activity: Try to find a full bodied shot of Stieg Larsson. You can’t. The dude was enormous. He died because he had to climb 7 flights of stairs. It’s a shame he went so early, though.

Once again I challenged my tastes and I came out better for it. If you’re ‘too cool’ for this series, I’d re-examine that choice. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” is a solid book. It’s not literature. But it’s a solid book.

Final thought, I think they should have kept the original title: “Men Who Hate Women”.

Like this book review? I’ve got a whole lot more. Here you go!


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One Response to “Hey Read This… Thoughts on The Millenium Series”

  1. Evie on November 7th, 2011 11:26 am

    Heath, I resisted too for much the same reason (one of the things I do not like about myself). When I succumbed last year, I also got totally sucked in AND read the next two books – agreed the first was the best. It was compelling, well written, great characters, etc. But nasty! EPL … that’s another conversation which we haven’t had. I’d rather talk about bamboo charcoal.

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