So in that marathon of junk reading that I was doing during sick-time, I finally managed to finish the Millennium trilogy (or as it’s better known, those Girl With a Dragon Tattoo books). For all those books are overly long, they really don’t take much time at all to read. Maybe that’s because I just skim all that irrelevant detail that makes up over half the book, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.

All told, now that I’ve finished the entire story arc, I have to say the story and character through-lines are well constructed and engaging. There is a compelling story there and I can tell why people loved his work. You do come to care about Lisbeth and her freedom. And when the evil psychiatrist is getting his come-uppance, you can’t help but feel viciously satisfied. But that is far from saying that I am completely happy with the books.

For a diversion, they function just fine, but there is one major problem with the work: Stieg Larsson has an unhealthy obsession with details. Here’s the thing. I do not need to know every step our character made as he gets up in the morning, does his morning toilet, prepares breakfast, and then walks to work. Maybe if this functioned as a carrier for his inner monologue–no, probably not even then. It’s just not relevant. All we really need are a sentence or two, with a couple details, that enable the reader to fill in the gaps. We do not need four pages detailing his morning actions that have absolutely no bearing on the plot whatsoever. This man desperately needed someone to hack away at his manuscripts with a judicious red pen and the books would have been half the length. This would not only be a service to the reader, it would also help keep those slow parts of the novels from dragging quite so much.

This also pertained to the exacting directions Larsson gave us everytime one of his characters took to the street. You could almost use the book as a map for finding your way around the major cities, but it’s just not needed. Yes, I’m impressed with your familiarity with the surrounding area. No, you don’t need to prove that you have a map pinned to the wall next to your computer. I do too, but you don’t see my writing riddled with extraneous geographical locators. It’s enough to say “From the office, he went to such and such hotel” instead of spending two paragraphs walking us through it.

But overall, that’s my only complaint about the novels. I may have felt they were a bit needlessly graphic at times, but that’s less of a concern to me then the criminal waste of verbs and names. I almost feel bad saying I’m okay reading the scenes which are a startlingly vivid portrayal of rape and torture compared to the long tedious descriptions, but that’s just me. At least in the rape scenes, the plot is moving forward…

Cover of Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest