The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Review)

Book cover for "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson.Title: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Author: Stieg Larsson

Narrator: Saul Reichlin

Publication Year: 2005

Pages: 600 (audio length: 18 hours 50 minutes)

Genre: Fiction

Source: Audiobook purchased from

From the cover:

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder – and that the killer is a member of his own family. He employs journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet’s disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history. But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and Blomkvist and Salander are about to find out just how far they are prepared to go to protect themselves.

(This is the first book in the Millennium series.)

I avoided this book for quite a while, largely because it was one of those popular, “must read” books that didn’t really seem like a must-read. Sort of like The Da Vinci Code, yanno?

Anyways, I finally decided to try reading it as an audiobook because it went on sale via Audible, and I figured that it was less of a gamble in audiobook format. If I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t have a lonely single book (of a trilogy) taunting me from my bookshelf – I’m a compulsive finisher of things – and there would be no harm, no foul if it was awful.

But it wasn’t!

I’ll grant that it wasn’t wonderful, especially in the first few chapters, when things were moving so slowly (and included so much talk of business logistics) that I just wanted to shoot myself in the mouth. Once things got moving, though, and the mystery/investigation really got underway, there was a total 180-degree shift in how I felt about the book.

Suddenly, it was exciting! And I loved the characters – particularly Salander, though I also found Blomkvist interesting in his own way. There were still numerous sections throughout the book where things kind of drag for a while, and the prose (and dialogue) definitely aren’t top notch, but they’re survivable. And really, this is a book meant to be read for the story and the mystery, not for its literary merit.

I should warn you, if you haven’t already read the book, that there is a great deal of (sexual) violence throughout the story. Like, a lot of it. But it never really seems gratuitous – it’s there to advance the plot or explain bits of the story. Having said that, if you really can’t handle this kind of thing, and/or are triggered by descriptions of it … then maybe you should avoid this book.

By the time the story wound up, I found that I had actually really enjoyed The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and really wanted to read/listen to the rest of the trilogy. I’m pretty sure that the narrator is the same throughout, which is good – I found his voice interesting and yet calm and collected, and he put just enough variation into different characters’ voices to make them distinguishable, without going over the top. (If he would stop pronouncing the word “sexual” like “sec-sue-al” then I’d be even more happy. Grr.)

Overall, though, I found the book quite entertaining. I’ve already finished listening to the second book as of now, and am starting the third. I’m finding them progressively hard to put down!


8 thoughts on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Review)”

  1. I’m pretty sure that this is so firmly in the ‘read it later’ category for me that I will never get to it. I am encouraged to know that the sexual violence doesn’t seem gratuitous, though. I do know that if I do ever get to it, it will be in audio.

  2. Ya know, I’ve never experienced an audio book and probably never will as my mind tends to wander half the time. 600 pages also feel like a lot to get through in one book.

  3. I’ve heard good things about the series but yeah, I tend to avoid the big thrillers like this. Though… I really love the premise and the ways that it apparently portrays violence against women and etc.

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