I listened to the first book, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, last year and really loved it. And I’m very glad that I listened to it instead of read it because I at least somewhat know how to pronounce many of the names and places in the next two books. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo made my favorites list from last year and the second and the third books are certainly up there for this years list already. The first book had me hooked to the point that I spent the next few months trying to find something comparable to it. The book and the characters stuck with me and haunted me long after I read it. That has not happened to me in quite some time. All of this led me to look into who Stieg Larsson was and buy the rest of the trilogy. I’m not sure how accurate it is, but I read somewhere that these books were not meant to be a trilogy at all. Many more books were planned after these three, but Larsson sadly passed away after writing the manuscripts for these three books. Such a shame.
I have read what other readers have to say about The Millennium Trilogy and I can understand the issues they have with Larsson’s plot and characters, but… I don’t have those problems. Maybe that sounds really sassy, but it’s true. I love these books. There’s a lot of buzz about diversity in books these days. Despite that I don’t hear a lot about Larsson’s novels in those discussions. The characters are all very different. Of course you have Lisbeth Salander who is a diminutive “goth girl” with interesting talents and possibly some kind of mental disorder. There are a multitude of other very strong female characters like Erika Berger, the middle aged newspaperwoman with a strong business sense, Monica Figuerola, the iron-pumping secret policewoman, and Annika Giannini, the honest and fierce attorney fighting for other women’s rights to name a few. All of these ladies (and many more) are strong, very different, and flawed. There are also a few characters that aren’t white and many characters who are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Did I mention every character feels real? Sure, there are sometimes lengthy sections that outline the characters in an “info-dumping” way, but it feels like you’re really reading their backstory in a police report (which is often the case). There is a good amount of criticism toward one of the main characters, Mikael Blomkvist, being Larsson’s wish-fulfillment of a playboy, goody-two-shoes, journalist, but so what? I like Blomkvist and I doubt there’s too many writers out there that don’t have little of themselves in some character they’ve created.
Don’t get me wrong- I can see the issues in these books. They are often slow, bogged down by copious political details, and sometimes unfocused on the main plot. I get it. I really do, but there’s so much good in them. So much that I can ignore these things or that they simply don’t bother me. Also, from what I’ve heard (again, citation needed here, not sure on the accuracy), but at least the last two books are not edited as much as they should have been since Larsson died early in the publishing process. The books may need a bit more time in the editor’s hands, but they are a hell of a lot better than most of the stuff that passes for “finished.”
I’m very sad that I finished the last of Larsson’s work with these characters. Of course there’s the new Lisbeth Salander book written by someone else… but using a dead man’s characters seems a bit sketchy. I may read it some day, but I’ll have to research the ethics surrounding its publication to calm my nerves about it. That and… I don’t want anyone else writing about Larsson’s characters. I want more from the series, but I want Larsson to write their lives. I’ll have to accept the impossibility of that wish.