For What It's Worth

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larrson + a Giveaway!

sAs with most of the blogger's out there I'm falling behind in my reviewing so I'm welcoming a new reviewer to For What It's Worth today. I met Alex on Twitter and enjoy his outlook on reading (& his Apprentice tweets). Also, in my opinion, we just don't get enough of the male POV in blogging so without further ado......

Meet Alex: “16 year old Bibliophile, budding Academic, Taekwondo Practitioner and Cat Lover. I enjoy Maths and dislike clutter. OCD, I know.” (Twitter @AlexConno in case you’re interested). The only thing to add might be grammarian or philologist. Any and every comment on this review will be heartily yet objectively received. And I’ll try to respond as time allows.

Alex's first review is for The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson

Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy Bundle: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's NestThe Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared without a trace more than forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to try to discover what happened to her. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist recently sidelined by a libel conviction, to investigate. Blomkvist is aided by the pierced and tattooed computer prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption on their way to discovering the truth of Harriet Vanger’s fate.

The Girl Who Played with Fire
Mikael Blomkvist, now the crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to his friend Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the murders. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
Lisbeth Salander lies in critical condition, a bullet wound to her head, in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. She’s fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she’ll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. On her own, she will plot revenge—against the man who tried to kill her, and against the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.


The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson is among the most engaging series of books I’ve ever had the joy to read. It’s at heart a mystery novel- which naturally arouses insatiable curiosity- but Larsson also delves into a commentary on human rights, corruption in society’s higher echelons and freedom of the press.
In a nutshell, the first book introduces characters and is a missing person mystery; the second is a murder mystery; and the last is the aftermath of the murder mystery and a governmental conspiracy.
I had to say I probably wouldn’t have read the books personally unless they were a gift. After having done so, I’m incredibly grateful for them. It’s confusing when it starts, but after that I was gripped into the story and desperate to know the outcome. I liked the characters- Salander especially- since they all seemed thought out and real enough. Salander, I thought, was unbearably witty at times. There’s a little romance, but it’s mostly peripheral and predictable. The romance is used more to create conflict, secrets and distrust: the foundations of a mystery novel. 
The plot of the three books is sprawling and complicated from the word “Go”. The second and third books are closer linked than with the first, but the plot is essentially the same: Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist set out (or end up) solving mysteries with far-reaching consequences. He manages to stay engaging and I could hardly put the books down which is credit to Larsson but a downside to this madness of information is that I sometimes wasn’t sure which ‘lead’ we were following in the mystery. Couple that with some similar Swedish names and an obscure and abstract concept, and I was left a bewildered reader (a rare occurrence, I assure you) that led to re-reading.
I think he also wrote a few info-dumps and writes assuming you’ve read the previous books so one couldn’t pick up just anywhere: there are too many tiny and seemingly inconsequential details. 
So he has an excellent plot, unforgettable characters and mesmerising prose? Sounds like a dream come true. Except that the novels are three hefty books that are sometimes too detailed. I am not Swedish and he probably realised readers might not be either, so he describes their legal system but at times I couldn’t remember all the details. And then, you know what, they weren’t even important. Just like setting and background. Completely pointless.
I give hearty recommendation to the books all the same- if its limited fame wasn’t support enough. I know there are films, but I don’t know how good they are - the narrator’s voice and characters’ insights are too important and make the books enjoyable. Portraying this in film may just seem wrong and cheesy. I will watch them though.
A warning though: Larsson does not pull punches. His books are dark- with images of a graphic and disturbing nature. They are mature reads but a mature reader I know refused to read beyond a certain point in the first book. There is sex and violence; and they are not mutually exclusive. Occasionally Larsson himself seems heartless and sadistic; instead I got the message that this was supposed to enrage the reader into protest. Thankfully, he doesn’t dwell on them, even though they are important. Mostly, there is just the event and a single look back to it. Nothing you can’t handle.

Total Rating: 4

Thanks a bunch for tolerating me popping up out of the blue (to all but Karen, anyway). I hope that despite being verbose, you found the review at least readably interesting.

Buy the books!

Thanks Alex! Great job. 

Karen here: Alex should be stopping by about once a month with a new review. Feel free to leave a comment and welcome Alex to For What It's Worth.
To celebrate his first review I'm giving away a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo to one lucky winner. Just fill out the form below.

*Must be over 18 years old
*Contest ends 7/3 11:59 pm ET

This giveaway is now closed.

The winner is Nikita


  1. Thank you for the giveaway! I heard great things about this trilogy but I haven´t read it yet. Again thank you for the chance to win. :)

  2. Alex - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is very graphic and disturbing but I was ok with it. I agree, it was essential to the storytelling. It was the ending that bothered me. It was a great ending but it left me so sad for Lisbeth that I was depressed for days. I will get to the other two sometime but I have to put myself in that frame of mind.
    Great review!

  3. Karen - I know, I felt so sorry for her. This sadness is important in the next book, and provides conflict in the last book. And Larsson knows many readers expect them to get back together too so I think he plays on that.

    I love that I have a giveaway dedicated (sort of) to me!

  4. I loved and hated this series. It got to be too wordy. Loved Lisbeth because she was such a kick ass character. Sometimes it felt like an ikea commercial.

  5. Great giveaway thank you.


  6. Thank you for the review and for making the giveaway international! I can't wait to read this trilogy. :)

  7. Julie- In a way, I completely agree with you. It was incredibly- almost unbearably- wordy at some points. But I think it was all at least tolerably relevant. And I loved Lisbeth too! I can't begin to express what a great character I thought she was.

    Giada M- I think most people will enjoy this so I'm sure you'll love it just as much!

  8. Great review! I've watched the movies, but have yet to read the books. I was trying to space some time in between so it'll seem fresh. Think I'm ready to dive in and start reading them now that I've read this review.

  9. great review and thank you 4 tha international give away

  10. Marie- I think my heart's just burst. I'm over the moon that anyone is convinced to now read them. I assume the films are good?

  11. Hi Alex!!! I hope to win your book as there are so many rave reviews for it! :D

  12. The films are great! Of course, there are subtitles but they are awesome.

  13. Some of those books have been translated into my language. But I prefer to read the English copy. I am afraid that I will miss something.

    Thanks for the chance

  14. I would love to win this, great giveaway!