It’s been about a month since I finished reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (by Stieg Larsson), and I still don’t really feel like writing or saying much about it. It wasn’t a bad book — I went in with zero expectations because I’d heard various mixed reviews about it back when it was super popular, so it couldn’t really disappoint — but it wasn’t amazing either.
It had some very strong (and graphic) points about sexual abuse and domestic violence, and it did well to highlight these issues, but it sort of left me wondering whether it actually had any significant impact on reducing the incidence of this kind of abuse. I’m generalising here, but I don’t think perpetrators are going to read this book and think, “This is wrong. I should stop doing this and get help.”
***Spoiler ahead*** [Do not proceed unless you don’t care about spoilers]
On the other hand, victims might feel empowered or at least comforted by the novel, which provides statistics at the start of every chapter about how prevalent sexual abuse and assault are in Sweden, so at least they’re not alone per se. But, then again, I’m not sure how much comfort it would be to read a book about all these women who died horrible deaths at the hands of a psychopath, and the only woman to escape had to essentially fake her own death and flee to the complete opposite side of the world in order to be free of him.
Well, I guess it wouldn’t have been as exciting if she just moved to the next town or country and entered into some victim protection program.
I also didn’t like how Harriet was the one sending her uncle Henrik all those pressed flowers as a way to tell him that she was ok, but the cousin who was helping her send these never realised or found out that Henrik thought these were being sent by the killer to mock him, so he wasn’t getting the message at all. Yes, even this cousin lived outside of Sweden, but considering how everyone else in the family knew how obsessed Henrik was with solving the mystery of Harriet’s disappearance, you would have thought she would’ve heard about it.
Anyway, there were bound to be various problems with the book but, again, it wasn’t a bad book. And, to be fair, I’m still in the phase of wondering if reading War and Peace has made me extra critical of every book I read. If I’m going to spend any measure of time reading a book, it has to be more than just a plain story, even if it has characters with depth, and an interesting plot arc.
So what’s next? I’m currently re-reading Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, because I’ve wanted to re-read it for a long time, and it’s a reasonably easy read. I tend to find that it’s better to re-read something rather than read something new when I’ve just finished a really profound book that has left a profound book hangover.
Don’t worry, I’ll probably move on from War and Peace at some stage, but you can’t spend an entire year reading a book and not have it infiltrate your mind to some extent. I didn’t even spend half a year reading Anna Karenina but it made such an impression that I still think about it now and then.