Monday, January 10, 2011

Me Like to Read - Reviewing the Millennium Trilogy Series

It's only the tenth day of the year and I have 5 books under my belt. This challenge has been both the best and worst thing to happen to me this year. It's the best because it's taken me back into the world of literature that I love so much. It's the worst because I forgot how single-minded I can be when engrossed in a good book.

I have recently finished the Millennium Trilogy Series written by Steig Larsson. Collectively, it's one of the best series I've read in a long time. For the purpose of the reading challenge, I will only count one of them toward the 26 books I committed to read this year because I feel like doing otherwise would be cheating. But I will be reviewing them all separately.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first installment of the Millennium Trilogy. It centers around Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who finds himself disgraced when he publishes a story that he can't verify. He refuses to fight against the corrupt financier who has tarnished his name and has all but given up on his profession when he's hired to write a billionaire's biography. The trick is that the billionaire really wants him to find his niece who went missing almost 40 years ago.

Mikael takes on the task with the promise of five million dollars if he succeeds. He knows that he can't do it alone and requests the aid of one of the world's finest hackers - Lisbeth Salander. Together they unearth a secret that Mikael can't tell and Lisbeth won't let go unpunished. You find that Lisbeth is a lot disturbed but when you see the kind of people who have been pushed into her life you understand why.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a full-on adrenaline rush. It's filled with dark twists and demands your full attention at all times. The only draw back is that it includes so much violence against women. So much so that it - at times - vexed my spirit.

The Girl Who Played with Fire

The second book in the Millennium Trilogy is - like in trilogies - the best. Mikael has exacted his revenge and Lisbeth is trying to go back to the person she was before she started to care about anyone that wasn't herself. While she's in the midst of finding her way, she lands smack dab in the middle of Mikael's next big story - sex trafficking.

They find that they are both hunting the same person and share the same source except Lis is accused of murdering him and Mikael's not. She goes on the lam as she focuses more on finding the bastard who really committed the crime and less on clearing her own name. Mikael puts all of his energy into the latter if only because the Lisbeth Salander he knows is one very different from the one the government is hunting.

It's a high-octane ride that's good from the first page to the last. The Girl Who Played with Fire had me gasping out loud and forgetting that the events weren't real. It weaves it way through one of the best kept secrets in the Swedish government and proves how far a country will go to save its global reputation.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

This last book starts with Lisbeth being air lifted to the hospital alongside her nemesis. She's finally been captured by the state and they have no intention of letting her go unless Mikael can prove that she is innocent of the crimes. While Lis is still the star of the book, there's not much she can do as a ward of the state and we are left to put all of our hopes in the lap of Mikael Blomkvist. He knows two things for sure: 1) Lisbeth Salander didn't commit the crimes and 2) he might die trying to prove it.

There are a number of new characters introduced in the first hundred or so pages. I counted two doctors, six police officers and an entirely new entity called "The Section". Being force fed so much new information made it hard to enjoy the book and there was really no action until page 125. I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster as the plot would take me to the peak of action and then let me free fall into boredom.

All in all, I was utterly moved by the amount of people who wanted to help Lisbeth simply because they knew it was the right thing to do. The characters were all smart enough to pick up on the goodness in her soul despite her eccentricities. At times it was hard to accept that all of the bad characters were coming to a bad end but I guess that's what fiction is all about.

In the end, Lisbeth finds herself wrestling with her own reality. She can't believe that she has feelings, friends, and freedom. It's a place that I'm sure we've found ourselves in at one time or another and it's the first time that any part of her adventure actually seemed real.

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