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Book: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

September 22, 2010

Ok! Ok! Fine! I read it already! (this to the myriad people who have begged and pleaded with me to read this book over the past year or two)

Actually, I listened to it on audio, as a test to see if I would enjoy audiobooks while driving my new, longer commute. It was an unqualified success.

I started listening to this while I was packing box after box after box. It totally kept my mind occupied and make the time go by quickly. Then I continued to listen to it on the drives out to our new house, for inspections and so on. This also worked well. And I finally finished it this morning on the second day of my new commute. The traffic slowdowns didn’t bother me at all since I gave myself plenty of time to get to work and I was so into the story (“an extra 10 minutes in the car? no problem! Now, what’s going to happen next?!”)

Swedish murder mystery, disgraced financial reporter makes the scoop of a lifetime, troubled young girl with a genius brain, horrifying discoveries and happy(ish) endings. If you haven’t yet seen the movie or read the book, I won’t spoil it for you (since there are plenty of excellent reviews of this out there, complete with the tragic story of the author), except to say that it was pretty great, with the exception of a few small things.

What I liked:

  • Lisbeth Salander. Great character. Smart cookie. A girl who believes in revenge. I liked her a whole lot.
  • Meaty story, with lots of backstory and details. I know this drives some people crazy but I loved it.
  • Swedish setting. I loved picturing the snowy islands and forests, and the cold hunting cabins.
  • Appropriate violence and genuinely dastardly crimes. It is a murder mystery, after all.

What I took some issue with:

  • The financial sidestory was a little longwinded at the end. I can see why they cut that part out from the movie.
  • A number of smaller storylines were left unfinished or were anemic. What happened with the tattooed guardian? What information did Henrik have about Wennerström? Why did the “friend” set up Mikael in the first place?
  • The entire central mystery was a tiny bit unplausible, although it made for a hell of a story.

Mostly this review is about my experience listening to the audiobook. It helped that it was narrated by Simon Vance, who is apparently a very popular narrator. He was excellent and I had no problem distinguishing between all the characters, based on his voice alone. I was surprised by how I felt like I was actually reading the book — the images occurring in my head were comparable to what usually happens in my head when I read (does this happen for everyone? A movie playing out in your head as you read?). The only difference was that I could do something else (a semi-brainless something else) while “reading.” This solves one of the central frustrations of my life: that I cannot read while doing boring things like packing boxes, exercising, or driving long distances.

I think I’m now hooked on audiobooks.

Even better: I discovered that my library has a large selection of audiobooks on CD, which I can check out, download to my computer, then upload to my iPod. It’s perfect. I checked out Fragile Things yesterday. I usually can’t do short stories, but I’m thinking that maybe they’d be perfect for commuting since I’ll only be listening for 45 minutes to an hour at a time. I also have looked at LibriVox, and downloaded a book from there as well. I can’t figure out how to download the audiobook from Project Gutenberg.

I started The Hound of the Baskervilles this morning (from LibriVox), just in time for RIP! I love — no, adore — Sherlock Holmes stories, so I’m really excited about this. I think I’ve read this one before but it’s been a long time.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2010 8:10 am

    James just finished the third book and liked them all very much. Now I just have to get around to reading them. He is waiting patiently for me to read the first one before we see the movie. And yeah, when I read I do have a sort of movie going in my head which is why it is so hard sometimes to see movies made from favorite books because the movie on the screen doesn’t match the one in my head!

    • September 23, 2010 4:46 pm

      I watched the movie first and it was different enough in parts that it didn’t take away my enjoyment of the book, although I knew how it turned out. Still worthwhile!!

  2. September 23, 2010 11:27 am

    i requested this book at the library. as of a week ago i was number 57 in a list of 68. its a wee bit popular.

    • September 23, 2010 4:47 pm

      D’oh. Well…. plenty of other books at the library in the meantime…

  3. September 23, 2010 2:32 pm

    I just had a good streak with a couple of audiobook narrators, both young actors putting their hearts in it. Which was nice, because just being a good actor doesn’t necessarily make a good reader. They really do make driving time fly by, don’t they!

  4. September 23, 2010 4:35 pm

    This is on my list. Has been for a while.

    My reading trend is to jump on a bandwagon.

  5. September 23, 2010 4:54 pm

    Audio books really are wonderful, at least when they are well done. I haven’t read, or listened to, this book, but I’ve seen the Swedish film that adapted it and it was great!

    Fragile Things is a really nice audio. I listen to parts of it every year in the fall.

  6. September 26, 2010 1:40 pm

    Sadly, audiobooks don’t let me sink into the story the way I like to do. I get distracted by the mindless things I’m doing or the things happening out my window and tend to “tune out” the audiobook! Although my primary experience with audiobooks is the old school, borrowed from the library, read by an man with a British accent-kind, bringing the classics to life-kind. Maybe I should try something contemporary?

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