I love getting caught up in a good book. Losing myself in the story – even for as little as 20 minutes – can help revive me; it almost makes me feel like I’ve been on vacation. (The only thing that tops that is actually being on said vacation while getting lost in a book). I find that it’s easier and easier for me to get emotionally involved with the characters and intrigued by the plot. Perhaps it’s the book selections I’m making nowadays … I’m not trying to read what I think I should be reading; I just read what I enjoy. I suppose getting older has its perks: no more trying to impress anyone.
And no books have made me feel as utterly engrossed as Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. The second I read the first word, I was interested. By the time I completed the first paragraph, I was gone, being pulled further and further into his character’s worlds. My boys were running naked through the yard (sorry 9th street), and I barely even noticed. These books made me get more than just caught up and involved … they made me downright negligent.
Larsson’s trilogy includes “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “The Girl who Played with Fire” and “The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.” The first tells the stories of Lisbeth Salander, a troubled yet brilliant young woman with a mysterious past, and Michael Blomkvist, an award-winning investigative journalist who works to clear his name after losing a libel suit and spending three months in prison. Their lives intersect as Blomkvist is hired by Henrik Vanger, CEO of successful Swedish company Vanger Enterprises, for a freelance assignment. Although commissioned as a family biography, the assignment is only a cover. Vanger’s real hope is that Blomkvist can use the information in the family history to solve a decades-old missing persons case, that of Vanger’s beloved niece Harriet. During his research, Blomkvist stumbles upon a dark family secret and, with Lisbeth’s help, solves the 40-year-old case.
The next two books reveal more of Lisbeth’s character and past, which includes her witnessing the horrific abuse of her mother by that of an international criminal. In an effort to protect her mother, she unwittingly becomes caught in a government cover up and a lifetime of abuses that lead to her being the top suspect in a double murder. The protagonists’ lives intersect once more as Blomkvist works to clear Lisbeth’s name of the murder charges.
The second book in the series, “Fire,” was my favorite. There were several “wow” moments, revelations that I didn’t see coming and that stunned me even more than the fact that my two naked boys were now hollering to the neighbors, attracting more attention to their lack of clothing and apparent lack of parental control.
But the redeeming and revenge-seeking nature of the “Hornet’s Nest” storyline is equally enthralling. You can’t help but cheer for Lisbeth in her pursuit to clear her name and the unconventional methods she uses to do so.
I liked Lisbeth and even admired her at times. I was endeared by Blomkvist’s intelligence and righteousness. The best compliment I imagine a writer could receive would be that their characters meant something to the reader, and that is definitely true of Larsson’s work. Combine that with an intriguing plot, great twists and even a little romance, and you have the makings of a pack of books that lends itself as a mini-vacation for a very weary reader who could use an escape from naked children and the other distractions of motherhood.
My only suggestion: Buy all three.
Because you will read all three at once.