I finally gave in and started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (actually I badgered my mother to finish it and lend it to me). I can’t stand when everyone’s reading a book and I don’t have an opinion about it. I don’t typically read modern-day thrillers but if everyone is reading this, there must be something there.
I’m halfway through and it’s not at all what I expected. I heard “nonstop thrills” and “grabs you from the beginning” and “perfect plane read”. I also heard, “starts a little slow but then you can’t put it down”. And of course everyone talks about Lisbeth Salander, and I do love a strong-but-troubled heroine.
I don’t normally write about a book halfway through but this one’s on my mind — and I was inspired by Alley over at What Red Read, who also is struggling with this book. Stop reading if you don’t want to know more about this book.
I was surprised to find the character of Salander is hardly in the first third of the book. Most of it centers around a rather emotionless older man, Mikael Blomkvist, who has just been convicted of libel by writing a defamatory article about a corporate mogul. He’s hired to investigate the 50-year old disappearance of a teenage girl. She comes from a huge family in a very small corporate town where everyone has the same last name (thankfully there’s a family tree at the beginning of the book).
Here’s how the book is going so far. Boring… boring… boring… boring… horrible sexual violence… boring boring.
I feel like this book kicked me in the gut and not in a good way, even though I was expecting some violence. The first third of the book was “bedtime reading” for me – in other words, something I can read 10 pages of and fall asleep without much trouble. Then without warning (okay a little warning) I’m reading in bed and get to something really ugly. Makes it a little difficult to turn the lights out and go to sleep.
I don’t know about you but I have a touchy tolerance-level for violence… I can handle sword fights, gun battles, explosions, etc. I can handle fighting by magic because it’s not real. I can handle gore and seeing dead bodies on TV. What I can’t handle is prolonged, individualized pain – in other words torture or rape. It’s hard to read about violence where I can imagine it happening to me, even if that’s basically the essence of good writing. Misery by Stephen King is an example of a book people loved and I had to put down. Same with American Psycho. And I’ll never see a Saw movie, ever.
I understand that horrible things do happen to people, and there’s great value in a book or movie helping us understand what some people go through. If this book does that, maybe I’ll appreciate it more. Right now I’m not feeling that way.
Keep reading or quit? I’m thinking if I put the book down now I’m left with a fairly gruesome image in my head (that 3 days later is still in my head). So I should probably power on through – unless there’s worse to come? Right now, oddly enough, the book is back to boring.
For those who read the book, what do you think? Did the rape scene bother you as much as it did me? And is it worth keeping on or if I’m not liking the book at this point, should I just put it down? I’ve read so many other great, enjoyable things lately, this one just may not be for me. But what is it that the rest of the world is loving so much?