Review: Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1) The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
4 of 5 stars

First, praise for this book. I spent most of my Saturday night and Sunday reading this. Once I got over the initial hump, the book went by quickly in a “I gotta know whodunnit!” fashion. It’s definitely a must-read for mystery lovers.

I certainly liked this book, but it wasn’t without its faults.

Most of the characters, even the “good guys” are morally questionable. I guess this makes them human, but it’s hard to root for them 100% when they’re a little bit shady.

I wasn’t sure I was going to like this book at first because the beginning, the setup of the entire mystery, was full of legal issues I wasn’t interested in, and characters whom I wasn’t sure would end up being main characters or not.

Then, there’s the product naming. I don’t know if it’s blatant product placement, but do I really know exactly which computer so and so bought and exactly what model of XYZ they used? It seemed a bit too specific.

There’s also a great deal of hacking going on in this book, but not very realistic hacking. It felt like a Hollywood depiction of hacking. You know, those movies where someone says frantically, “They’re going to infiltrate our firewall in less than 10 seconds! We have to get our kaspersky keys up!” Okay, maybe the hacking wasn’t *that* inaccurate, but I had a hard time believing some of the methods.

Although the solution to one of the main mysteries in the book was a satisfying one, I was still a little disappointed. Maybe it was all the hype buildup around the “Whodunnit??” but when the villain was revealed, I felt let down by his/her motive. There wasn’t a good motive. The villain was just bat-shit insane.

Despite the flaws, it’s a pretty good book that had me gripped till nearly the end.

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Ring (the novel, not the movie)

51hcxh9tmel_sl160_The best way to enjoy Ring by Koji Suzuki is to not watch the movie (the Japanese one or the American remake) and not know anything about it.  I’m jealous of people who can come to the novel with a fresh mind like that.   For the rest of us, the novel is still good, but there’s no sense of “aha!” once the plot unfolds.

The book starts off with the death of four teenagers, seemingly unrelated other than having died at exactly the same time and from the exact same thing: sudden heart failure. From that starting point, Suzuki writes an evenly paced mystery that’s part detective novel and part supernatural fiction.

Unlike the movies, the novel Ring is more mystery than jump-out-of-your-seat horror.  But that doesn’t make it any less scary.  I made the mistake of reading this before bed several nights and while I wasn’t that scared whlie reading it, more than once I woke up in the middle of the night and felt fear.  One night, I woke up, looked at the BF sleeping next to me and for some reason I thought he was dead.

In addition to the mystery, there’s a lot of Japanese culture and traditions in the book. The translator balances having the book feel Japanese without making it feel too foreign to non-Japanese readers.  In other words, it reads like something that happened in Japan but could also happen in any other country.

The book explains a few things that the movies gloss over and while the main plot is the same, there are small differences and even a few surprises.  It may not be for someone who wants to read a written version of the movie, but I enjoyed it for the background it gave as well as for more insight into the detective character and other character motives.

All She Was Worth

I picked up All She Was Worth by Miyuki Miyabe a few months ago because I liked Brave Story, a novel geared towards younger audiences. All She Was Worth was Miyabe’s first adult book that I’ve read and one of the few mystery novels I’ve read this year.

All She Was Worth starts off with the disappearance of a woman and follows an on-leave detective as he tries to find her and uncover the unusual circumstances in which she disappeared. Although that’s the main mystery flowing through the book, I didn’t find it that engaging. I already guessed what had happened to her and the characters of the book felt so distanced.
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