December 14, 2011

December 14, 2011

Things I’ve Read: The Millennium Trilogy

Now that trailers have started popping up for the American movie adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, those people who hadn’t read the book are starting to have some awareness of it. There’s a scary-looking girl, with dark hair and facial piercings. There’s an old guy. There’s James Bond Daniel Craig. The sets appear furnished by Ikea.

Not too far off, really.

The scary-looking girl is Lisbeth Salander, who is as talented at computer hacking as she is lacking of social comportment.

Daniel Craig plays Mikael Blomkvist, a sort of sexpot journalist. The old guy (played in the movie by Christopher Plummer) turns out to have a mystery that he wants Blomkvist to investigate. Salander gets involved. Hijinks ensue.

Oh, and the Ikea vibe? The thing is set in Sweden.

The subsequent books, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest and The Girl Who Played With Fire, follow Salander and Blomkvist as they work with, against, and around each other, uncovering grotesque acts of violence against women.

Because, rest assured, there is a lot of grotesque, a lot of violence, and a lot of women. I think the bleak Nordic setting really sets the mood here. You can understand how men (and women) could be driven to do horrible things. If an Ikea couch is slashed to pieces in the woods, does it make a sound? Though I could have done with fewer graphic rape scenes. I read that the author, Stieg Larsson, saw a woman get gang raped when he was young, and that started him on a crusade. A worthy cause, certainly, and one backed with shocking statistics. I’m proud to be an American, our lack of Ikeas aside.

I had a little trouble following the characters, for they are many. And they make cultural references I don’t always understand. And they have names with entirely more vowels than I am used to. Seriously, my last name as a “czk” in it, and I was completely befuddled by some of these surnames. Need to buy a vowel? ASK A SWEDE. Kidding aside, reading something that wasn’t written in English, nor for Americans, was refreshing. It reminds me that the rest of the world has more to offer than Hello Kitty.

[But then there’s this.]

Like many people, I found the books compelling and read them as quickly as I could. The mysteries themselves became less of a concern (not that I don’t enjoy watching someone taking down a corrupt financier or solving a murder mystery, but I got Nancy Drew for that) as I found myself drawn to Lisbeth. Would she avenge those who’d wronged her? Would she reconcile with Mikael, or Mimmi, or Camilla? Lisbeth’s existence seems impossible; she’s such a contradiction of features, skills, and appearances. Yet there she is. I believed in her, I rooted for her, I wanted her to stop sunning herself in Gibraltar and GET ON WITH THE WHOOPASS ALREADY.

I’m not particularly interested in seeing the film(s), since I assume the grisly scenes with be even grislier in a dark theater full of strangers. But the books? Those I’ll read again someday.

0 Fish in a Sea of Diet Coke: