After I read a book that leaves me satisfied, I feel the urge to analyze it, review it, and often, make myself end up hating it. When you’re on a beach somewhere, flipping open the first book on your reading list, or at a table trying to read your book as an excuse not to converse with your relatives, the quality of the book isn’t the most important thing. The escapism is.
Most of these books don’t survive critical thought.
For this reason, my list of all-time favourite books has remained small. And the more I think about it, the smaller it gets.
There are however a few books that have survived my critical thought. My all-time favourite of these survivors would be The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Amazingly, its two sequels have also withstood, well, me.
It takes a special kind of author to pull off anything factual. When discussing things like government, history, or technology, there is a small grace period. On either sides of this are info-dumping and calling upon science-magic and wild speculation. Stieg Larsson has managed to perfect this, offering enough detail not to leave us confused, but not so much that we are reminded of our high school history textbooks. Then again, he does have three books to stretch it over.
The Millenium trilogy, as it is officially called, fell short, in my opinion, in its division of the three books. The first book was perfect, absolutely was paced, the conflict brought, dealt with, and closed. The last two books follow the same storyline, and work to resolve the same conflict; they are essentially one book divided into two (do I hear Lord Of The Rings anyone?). That didn’t make it any less riveting, however.
In books, I hate violence for the sake of violence. In a similar nature, I hate sex for the sake of sex. I think that abusing the characters for shock value is a cheap move on the part of the author. In these books, nearly all bad things that could happen do: they are not for the light of heart. There’s abuse, and rape, and neo-Nazism, and assault and murder… and pretty much any other trigger warning one could think of. Despite this, the violence, and shocking events, carry more to them than just shock value. They carry weight, and impact the plot, as well as the characters. Things that we thought had died and been dealt with come back to life and reveal their true purpose: an excellent example of this was Nils Bjurman. You think he disappears halfway through the first book, but a book or two later, he’s back, and he hauls a plot with him.
And the subplots. They were excellent. Excellently weaved into the main plot, excellently executed. And they are always relevant, though you may not know it at the time.
This is a mystery book, and carries plenty of tension. I’ll admit it, it took me three months to read the last book. Not because it was bad, but simply because I got too stressed on the part of the characters that I put it down for two and a half months. I finished the second half of my book while on vacation in Florida. Every morning, I would head down to the pool, crack open The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, and stayed there until the sunburn became to much to bear (then I would head into the shade). Not a light read. But satisfying in the end.