“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” an International Phenomenon

Cover of the novel "The Girl With the Dragon Tatto"

Rossano Butcher, Staff Writer

They became a summer hit and a number 1 bestseller on Amazon for over 100 days. Of course I’m talking about the most talked about books of the year, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy, by Swedish author Stieg Larsson.

If you haven’t heard about this “international sensation,” then I will tell you all about it. In a nutshell, all three books are mystery novels, from finding a missing girl, to investigating corrupt corporations and the “dirty” government. There is though the undelying topic of the mistreatment of women in Swedish society, which is very much visible thoughout the novles. See, I never said that this was a “happy” book. However, even though I am not one to read the latest story about the dark side of human nature, I was intrigued by how much publicity and praise it received. And after reading all three books, in the matter of a year, I can truly understand why.

The first book, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, is an introduction to the characters. The story opens when major businessman Henrik Vanger hires Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who is caught up in a libel case, to investigate the disappearance of Vanger’s great-niece, Harriet Vanger, which happened 40 years ago. Like myself, many readers thought that the girl “with the dragon tattoo was Harriet, however we were wrong. The girl with the tattoo is in fact Lisbeth Salander, the 24 year old computer hacker, who has photographic memory, a serious temper, and who also suffers with Asperger’s syndrome. She is hired by Blomkvist as a personal assistant for the case.

According to the Guardian, the book is  a “literary phenomenon.” But the real reason why this trilogy is so good is not because of the plot, which in itself is quite interesting, but it is because of the characters. Blomkvist is your typical lady’s man journalist, the kind of man who will do anything to get the scoop for the story and will fight for the truth, even if it does take him to the courts. The protagonist, Lisbeth Salander, has to be the most original character I have read in ages. Throughout the books we get to see the dark past which this girl has gone through and understand why she is the way she is. While I was reading these novels she reminded of Holden Caulfield from The Catcher in the Rye, with her goth look and her negative attitude against the world, she is just simply misunderstood and hasn’t been given a chance. She will be a character that will be studied by English professors for years to come, I guarantee it.

Now if you haven’t heard of the books, maybe you have heard of the movies. Since the novels became such a big hit in Sweden, they decided to make a movie version, which later was brought to Amherst Cinema. These movies were criticized as “mesmerizing” by Q magazine and “Spectacular” by Rolling Stone. However if you are the type that likes to watch a movie, without reading subtitles, than just wait until the end of the year were the U.S. version will hit cinemas. The film is being directed by Oscar Nominated David Fincher and will star English actor Daniel Craig, and rookie actress Rooney Mara.

It is a must read series, and it will become a must see movie. Take my advice, and you’ll see!