Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Big Book Read #14

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Twenty pages into this book I wasn't sure if I'd continue. I'm not generally a 'thriller' type of girl and this one has a whole of of business talk in it, at least at the beginning. I stuck it out though and I'm very glad I did.

Journalist Mikael Blomkvist has just been convicted of libel and sentenced to three months in prison. Before his sentence is to be carried out he has taken a job for the aging businessman Henrik Vanger. For one year Blomkvist will dig deep through the family records and police reports to solve the 40-year old mystery of Vanger's niece Harriet's death.

Meanwhile, hacker extraordinaire Lisbeth Salander (the title character) becomes involved in the secret investigation when Blomkvist realizes he needs her expertise. She is a mysterious and obviously troubled character and various episodes of her life are revealed throughout the book.

The original title for this novel was Men Who Hate Women and to me that seems more fitting. This book is just as much about Blomkvist as it is about Lisbeth Salander and the theme running through the book is very much in line with the original title. Yes, Lisbeth is the girl with the dragon tattoo, but what has made her the person she is at the start (and end) of this book has much more to do with the abuse she suffered at the hands of men. Together, she and Blomkvist, who seems to be the first man she can truly trust, uncover the Vanger family secret. And it's a doozy.

Big Book Read #13

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

This book is full of awesome. I could probably just end the review here and be completely satisfied but those silly Big Book Read rules require me to give you at least three paragraphs. So, here goes...

Shadow has recently been released from prison and become a widower. He meets the mysterious Wednesday while on his journey home and agrees to work for the man; despite not knowing who he really is or what he really does for a living.

What follows is one man's very strange trip through the myths and legends that have been absorbed into the American landscape and psyche. Gaiman depicts a sort of "alternate" American midwest and it is fantastic yet real and familiar yet terrifyingly strange all at the same time.

In this novel the ancient gods brought to North America by immigrants and travelers are at war with new indigenous gods. These new gods are everywhere. They are the gods of credit cards, television and cell phones and poor Shadow can't seem to take two steps without running into one of them.

There is a lot going on in this book, but the main story revolves around Shadow's road trip through America. The heart of the story is decidedly human and many moments see the bickering gods pushed to the side and we get to see this strange and beautiful America through Neil Gaiman's eyes.

Read it.