Rated Reads

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

by Stieg Larsson

Rated: DIRT

The story opens with 82-year-old Henrik Vanger receiving a pressed and framed flower on his birthday. The tradition started decades earlier with his favorite niece, Harriet Vanger. His wall is covered in the framed flowers, except for one year, the year Harriet went missing. The next year, and every year on his birthday since, a flower has arrived from an anonymous person, haunting Henrik and keeping her disappearance, which has become his obsession, alive in his mind.

Then the story jumps to that of Mikael Blomkvist, a financial journalist, who has just been found guilty of aggravated libel in a story he wrote about a Swedish industrialist.

Henrik Vanger hires Blomkvist to solve the mystery of Harriet’s disappearance under the guise that he’s writing the history of Vanger and the Vanger family. Blomkvist moves out to the small Swedish town and lives in Vanger’s guest house as he begins to research the family, never imagining that he’d actually solve the mystery. He is later assisted by Lisbeth Salander, a tiny tattooed woman (the title character), who probably has Asperger’s Syndrome, who is an expert “researcher” for the security firm for whom she works.

While The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is marketed as a crime novel and a thriller, partway into it, it became very apparent that sexual assault on women was going to be a huge part of the plot. Had I known this going into the novel, I might not have continued. But that being said, I still finished it, skimming the gruesome details as quickly as possible so they wouldn’t stick in my mind, and got to the end of the mystery. Will I read the next one in the series? Probably not.

Rated: DIRT. Although the technical definition of the DIRT rating is that I didn’t finish, I did finish, but I rarely don’t finish a book.  The language is bad: there are about 20 uses of the f-word and other harsh language, but not nearly as horrible as the descriptions of the sexual assaults against women. It is maybe comparable to an episode of CSI that is especially centered on sexual assault, but I’ve always felt that reading it is always much worse than seeing it. A picture paints a thousand words. I’d rather see that brief picture than read those 1,000 words. For more excellent observations on the subject, read this article.

— Reviewed by Nancy Minster

Nancy Minster is an avid reader, is married to an avid reader and is the mother to four little kids who seem to like books as well. One can only wonder where they get it from!

7 Responses to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

  1. Lucy says:

    I second the “dirt” rating. I read all three novels for review, and while I can appreciate how many people find them addictive and entertaining, they were nonetheless unnecessarily vile.

  2. Janette says:

    My friend had just recommended this website to me today, and I already love it! I was planning on buying this book in a few days, so I thought I may as well see what Rated Reads has to say about it. I’m so happy I did, it saved me from wasting my money on a book that’s too inappropriate! How can people ever find entertainment in such things?

    • Glad we could be of help. That is our goal! There are probably still plenty of people out there who are fine with reading the books as they are, but at least we can help warn those who would find their content offensive. Spread the word to friends.

  3. Lynann Adams says:

    Horrific…was Mr. Larsson married? Has a daughter? If they existed, it’s hard to imagine them being comfortable in his presence. I won’t read the following two books, ever.

  4. Leonne says:

    Too bad for me I didn’t find out about this website BEFORE I started reading this book! I would give it a DOUBLE DIRT rating. Didn’t finish it and wish I didn’t read what I did. Don’t waste your time with this one.

  5. Lynne says:

    I heard that this was a good book, and when it finally came in at the local library, I took it home and began to read it. I knew that it was a murder mystery, but nothing else. I wish I had learned about Rated Reads before I read this book. I did finish it because once started, I had to find out how it ended. It was good and suspenseful until the middle of the story and then things became gruesome and sickening. How could anyone think up such depravity? Don’t read this book or is sequels. They must all be trash.

  6. ashley says:

    I just found this site today! I love it! I just finished “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” last night and found it to be very disturbing. I actually thought to myself “I wish books had ratings!” I should have put it down because it was very graphic, but I wanted to find out who the murderer was. I will not be reading any more books in the series!

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • by Stieg Larsson
  • Rated: DIRT
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Reviewer: