I would like to shake the hand of whoever decided how to market “The Millennium Trilogy” books in the US. This past summer, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and its two sequels have been flying off bookshelves. Every time I ride the train or bus, I see people reading one of the books. So why has this trilogy captured the attention of so many people worldwide? Maybe because it is so good.
I first learned about “The Millennium Trilogy” in an article I read in Vanity Fair about the late Swedish author, Stieg Larsson. Larsson was the editor in chief of Expo magazine and an expert on Nazi organizations and antidemocrat right-wing extremist groups. Larsson turned in three transcripts to his publisher before his unexpected death. Those three books became very popular in Sweden, and eventually that popularity spread through Europe onto the United States.
“The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo” is the first of the series. In this book, we meet Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who has been convicted of writing a libelous story. Although his story is true, Blomkvist has no evidence of its legitimacy. With a damaged public image, Blomkvist takes a job for Henrik Vanger, an old man who is head of one of Sweden’s biggest companies. Vanger wants Blomkvist to use his investigative skills to help solve the disappearance of his niece, Harriet. It is through this task that Blomkvist meets Lisbeth Salander, an edgy computer hacking genius with a mysterious and violent past. Together, they work to solve the mystery.
Larsson writes in a very different way than most novelists. In the beginning, it is difficult to become immersed into the story. Larsson writes out everything like you are reading a police report. He states the details of the characters and places. But after the first one hundred pages, I could not put the book down. While we learn about Blomkvist in this book, the most fascinating scenes involved Salander. I was always impatient to get to part where I can learn anything about Salander. I found myself becoming so personally involved in Salander’s well being. (I was feeling protective over a fictional character!) Without a doubt, Larsson has created one of the most intriguing new characters in modern literature.
It isn’t until the second and third novel when we get Salander’s story. In my opinion, the last two books trump the first one completely. “The Girl Who Played with Fire” and the last book, “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” are full of action and suspense. I found myself reading all night until morning because I HAD to know what was going to happen next.
I was very happy and satisfied with how the trilogy ended. It was best ending for this type of story. There are rumors that transcripts and outlines of Book 4 and 5 written by Larsson exist. However, since this is being marketed as a trilogy, I will not put too much stock on those rumors.
Because of its success, the Swedish film industry has produced films for each of the books. The first two adaptations have already been released in the United States. The last film is now showing in Europe and will be released in the US at the end of October. (I have seen all 3 movies and absolutely recommend them!) The Hollywood adaptation for the first one is already in the works. David Fincher (Fight Club, The Social Network) is to direct, and Daniel Craig will play Mikael Blomkvist. Newcomer, Rooney Mara won the coveted role of Lisbeth Salander. (I also recommend that you see The Social Network to see both of Fincher’s and Mara’s work.)
If you have not picked up and read these books yet, what are you waiting for? Hurry up before I send Lisbeth Salander after you!