So I first read this book almost exactly 10 years ago. And I LOVED it. I binged the entire series in under a week while lounging on the beach on holiday. And once I got home, I proceeded to try and convince the entire world and their mothers to read it too. This was a 5-star read for 20-something me if ever there was one.
So when this book was chosen as this month’s buddy read in a server I particularly enjoy, I was both excited and apprehensive. I mean, I was really looking forward to reading something I love, but at the same time, I am not the same reader I was 10 years ago, and I remembered this book having a lot of tropes I really don’t enjoy anymore.
So I am starting this review with a big trigger-warning: this book deals with rape. I won’t go into major spoilers, because I don’t want to ruin your experience, and this book is definitely worth reading. But please be aware that the original Swedish title of this book translates to “Men who hate women”, and that this is a far more accurate title than the English translation. This book deals with sexual assault, and it is not done subtly; it is massively descriptive, and although it is not trivialised, you shouldn’t go into it blind if that is a subject you are not comfortable with.
So on with my review.
Some things I really enjoyed:
- The pacing of the book: even though I had read this before, this book never failed to keep me on my toes. There was always something happening, and the chain of events kept it fresh and interesting even throughout the info dump at the start. Two of the main characters don’t even meet until the middle of the book, and it is wonderfully satisfying.
- The financial intrigue: maybe it’s because I’m an accountant (and a huge nerd) and find these things fascinating, but the main character is a financial reporter, and we get so much background on the Swedish market that I can only imagine it’s a treat if you get all the references.
- The mystery: the author keeps us on our toes throughout the entire book. We want to solve the mystery along with the characters. And what a mystery it is. There are so many layers and so many unexpected turns, and it goes deeper and deeper than you could ever guess when you first started reading.
- The ending: you should be prepared that this book’s climax happens, and then you notice that there is still a good 120 pages left to go. This time is divided between closure, a wrapping up of loose threads and what I can only imagine is the next book’s set up. Don’t get me wrong; this book works perfectly as a standalone, but there is setup. And I just loved spending that denouement time with one of the characters in particular. What can I say? They rock socks.
Some things I did not love:
- You can tell a straight man wrote this book. I mean, it’s not completely off-putting or anything, but sometimes things are unnecessarily sexualised. And maybe it’s on purpose after all this is a book about men who hate women, but 99% of male characters in this book are creeps. Maybe all of them, at least to a certain degree. And there is this one instance when Lisbeth Salander refers to another female character is her mind as a “slut”, which is completely out of character, but that might be the translator’s fault, I’ll never know.
- Still connected to the point above, the main character ends up sleeping with every woman he meets for some reason. I mean, it’s just not realistic, and most times it adds absolutely nothing to the story. I don’t know; I am always a fan of mysteries and thrillers without any romance.
- I didn’t love reading the crude depictions of sexual assault, but they are an integral part of the story, so I guess I can’t exactly complain. You know, it’s just not fun.
All in all, I have to say this holds up well. I have rated it 4-stars now, so not quite as good as last time I read it, but still a solid, great book. Give it a chance.