We shall begin with a quote from page 630 of the mass market paperback:
"Berger thought that the book was the best thing Blomkvist had ever written. It was uneven stylistically, and in places the writing was actually rather poor - there had been no time for any fine polishing - but the book was animated by a fury that no reader could help but notice."
That quote explains perfectly how I feel about this book. An unpolished translation of an unedited book that the world collectively lost their shit over. It goes without saying, if you want insta-success, you need to die (or fake your death, but more on that later) and leave behind a)secret paintings b) proof of sexual escapades with some celebrity c) a buncha manuscripts no one knew you were working on. The author died on November 1st 2004 and the first publication of this book was on January 1st, 2005. They really shoved this novel out, don'tcha think?
Shortly after Stieg Larsson passed away, three completed novels were found. Those novels were then published. I don't know about the rest of the series, but this joker is most definitely a first draft. Superfluous detail like character histories that take up whole pages only for that character to never be heard from again, meandering chapters that bring up stuff never again touched upon, page after page of coffee (thanks a heap to Tobin for pointing that shit out because after he mentioned it, I realized there's nary a chapter without someone starting, drinking, or tossing out a pot of coffee). Larsson bit the big one after climbing seven flights of stairs because the elevator in his office building was broken. That's sad, because I would have liked to have read a streamlined version of this book. Which brings me to my next point...
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is actually two books. You have one book that's really quite interesting. This first book gives us the reason everyone lost their shit over it: Lisbeth Salander. Strong women like her are hard to find, and when you do find them, they are without hangups. Salander is fucked up, but keeps on doing her thing. Every scene with her in it is great. Unfortunately, she's strapped to the helm of a truly by-the-numbers cold-case thriller. I like that there's no damsel-in-distress moment in this book, but other than that, this plot and payoff have been done ad nauseam. Which brings me to book two...
A financial thriller with a heavy dose of journalistic integrity morals. I don't give a fuck about that part of the story, so I choose not to comment on it, other than to say, Wennerström was never a threat. All that shit happened on the back burner, and it felt like the novel slogged trying to tie up a fuck load of loose strings that I couldn't be bothered to care about.
This is, by far, the worst translation I've ever read. There are several places where the translator gave not a single fuck and just threw in what he thought the author might have meant. This is another problem with publishing posthumously. I almost want to read the original Swedish text to see what the author actually wrote. And because it's bound to come up if I don't cite my reasoning behind why I think the translator just gave up at certain parts, I provide the jury with two examples:
"an apology of a desk"
Perhaps the author meant:
"a sorry excuse for a desk"
"a common and garden bastard"
Perhaps the author meant:
"a garden variety bastard"
Oh, and I see why Daniel Craig was cast as Blomkvist for the 'Murican version of this book's adaptation. Like Craig's other popular character, James Bond, Blomkvist gets more strange than Wilt Chamberlain. Dude fucks all three of the main females in this book. The only reason he didn't fuck Harriet Vanger was because... oops, sorry can't tell you because spoilers!
Anyfart, the only way I'll be reading the rest of these doorstops is if someone can assure me we find out more about Salander's past. I'd be willing to slog through another 2,000 pages just to find out more about her. She's the only reason I gave this tired, bloated, posthumously-published-and-unpolished novel three stars instead of two. Because I like her. The rest of the book? Meh.
One final bit that's sure to pis some people off:
I'm a conspiracy theorist at heart, and I kinda think Larsson faked his death. He was receiving death threats before he died of a heart attack and had been in hiding. What better way to disappear than to have the proceeds from a book to start a new life with. I'm sure Larsson, Tupac, and Elvis are all riding around the Swiss Alps on golden snow mobiles, drinking Orphan Tear vodka, and fucking busty Yetis.
In summation: Fuck 50% of this book. Fuck Blomkvist. Fuck Berger. Fuck Armansky, Henrik, and Frode. Especially fuck Cecilia, who was there because... I don't know why. To be fucked by Blomkvist, I guess. Fuck 'em all, aside from Salander. She's cool, and makes this book worth a read if you need to win a bet or someone's kidnapped your poodle and the ransom is you must read this thing by that one dead guy.
Final Judgment: A common and garden bastard.
If any of you think I've been insensitive in my review and feel you want to ask how I would feel if someone ragged on my work after I died, I'd tell you that I wouldn't give a shit. You know, because I'd be fucking dead.