The Holy Grail is probably, in all likelihood, a myth. (And here’s where I get all the conspiracy theorists to look at this blog, which will finally get my views per week into double digits. I’m a genius.) And even though it’s most likely a myth, we talk about it all the time in casual conversation, such as, “Fiji Water is my Holy Grail water” or “This is my Holy Grail toothbrush because I don’t choke on it.” Or what have you.
And why do we call something our Holy Grail? Because it does and has everything we need it to. It is what we have been looking for to fill the meaningless void of existentialism that exists within all of us when we are trying to figure out our place in the universe. It fills all of our requirements without trying. That’s exactly why I love The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The whole Millennium series, in fact. I will probably review the rest of the books in the series at some point, so if you like this review, go ahead and keep an eye out for the others.
When I say that this book is actually everything, what I mean is that it had things I didn’t even know I wanted. Of course I wanted a strong female lead who takes no shit and is beyond capable of handling her life and herself. Of course I wanted a strong, developed, consistent plot line that didn’t leave me hanging more than once. Of course I wanted suspense and adventure and a murder mystery. I got all those things. But the way I got them was completely different from how I thought I was going to get them.
I got a strong female lead in Lisbeth Salander. I got more than a strong female lead in Lisbeth Salander, actually. What I got from Lisbeth Salander was a character who was the physical embodiment of darkness. And fire. And curiosity. And pain. And determination. Lisbeth is all at once dangerous and vulnerable, but she doesn’t solely rely on being one or the other. She knows she is both and knows how to use both to help her survive. A brilliant computer hacker and about 95% antisocial, she keeps her past secret from others (and with good reason like holy crap was it terrible). But the thing that I love the absolute most about her, without a doubt, is that she is a fighter who bears particular disdain for men who abuse women (The Swedish title of the book, Män som hatar kvinnor, literally translates to “Men who Hate Women”), and uses her gift of hacking to exploit them. Lisbeth is the hero we deserve, but not the one we want. She is not polished or poised with a strict set of moral codes. She is somebody who deals in justice the way a painter might deal in oils: she creates her own. Now, this doesn’t mean that she goes out looking for justice to create. If she sees something wrong, she puts it into her own hands to challenge.
I got a strong, developed, consistent plot line. This book revolves around Lisbeth assisting journalist Mikael Blomkvist in searching for a woman who has been missing for forty years. This woman, sixteen at the time of her disappearance, is the niece of one of the richest men in Sweden, and was discussed as being the one who would take over the family business and fortune. She goes missing during a family reunion and is presumed as dead. The more that Lisbeth and Mikael discover about her, the more they discover about her family as well. These are secrets you would literally never want to hear in the history of ever. This is some evil shit we’re talking about, with connections to Nazi fascism, ritual murders, and a whole lot of other nasty ass shit that is actually the stuff of nightmares. What makes this plot the thing I yearn for in every novel is the sheer fact that it makes me stay up late at night because I HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS NEXT AND SLEEP IS FOR THE WEAK ANYWAY.
I got suspense and adventure and a murder mystery. There are several moments throughout this novel where I can distinctly remember my heart being in my throat. As I mentioned earlier, there is indeed a murder mystery here, but there’s a twist to it that I refuse to reveal. I did promise to be a spoil-free zone, after all. Another thing that’s so great about this novel is the fact you can tell there was a lot of time and research put into it to explain more complicated elements of computer hacking, Swedish history, and the business of journalism in layman’s terms.
Perhaps the drawback of this novel lays in its content. What I mean by this is that there are several scenes where the true brutality of human nature is prominently displayed. TRIGGER WARNING: There are mentions of incest, blood, rape, and slaughtered animals in this book. There is also a highly graphic rape scene. If any of these things are subject matters you have to avoid, this book might not be for you, or should be approached with caution. Please keep yourselves safe. I know this blog is meant to be lighthearted and fun, but I genuinely care about you. Keep yourself safe, okay?
With all that being said, the other minor drawback of the novel is that sometimes it get so fast-paced that you have to reread sections a few times to fully absorb what’s going on. But other than that, it’s a masterpiece.
Would absolutely wholeheartedly recommend.