Monday, June 28, 2010

The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson ***

The movie that has been made from this book is just now out in the US, though it was released last year in Europe. The premise sounded good to me and I wanted to read the book before I saw the movie, so it seemed like a good choice for the Kindle. I haven't seen the movie yet, but I hope to soon.

The first thing that strikes you when you start this book is the violence. It's not immediate, but once it gets going it's very graphic and disturbing. For whatever reasons, I just don't like books like that in general anymore. About 10 years ago I think this would have been much more my thing, but not now.

Another beef I had with the book was one of the main characters, Mikael Blomkvist. I just never really liked him. Again, I can't put my finger on it and say exactly why, but he annoyed me.

The character of Lisbeth, the titular female, is an interesting one. She has had a very difficult past that has made her a person of very little outward display of emotion and she is mostly misunderstood by those around her. Her ambivalence towards issues that most other people find very important has marked her as a rebel.

The mystery in the book is good, with many twists and turns that are hard to anticipate. I think the story itself is a very good one.

I don't think I'll be reading the other two books that Larrson wrote before his untimely death, but you never know.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake ***

This is one of those books that you finally get to the end of and you're left wondering many many things about it. Like, why?

It takes place in 1940-1941 before the US had joined up for WWII. The action happens on the home front and over in Europe, following two stories that converge in the end. The premise is that the postmaster of a small town on the tip of Cape Cod decides to buck her own principles and not deliver a letter to a woman who's husband is in London helping out during the Blitz. Now, my big Why? in this book is why did this woman's husband go over there? He's a doctor, he's lost his first patient, and he can't take it anymore. So he goes over to help in London. But he loves his wife very much and knows that he leaves her utterly alone when he's gone. I was mad at this guy from the get go. I guess it just didn't make enough sense to me that he'd leave her and that made any sympathy I had for him go right out the window.

Alright, meanwhile there's an American lady radio reporter over in London too, reporting on the Blitz. Her impassioned reporting is partly why the doctor went over there. She soon leaves London, though, to go to continental Europe and report on the plight of the Jews there. She makes voice recordings (the technology wasn't really quite there yet in reality) of the people she meets fleeing for Spain and Portugal, realizing that many of them would soon be dead. This was a pretty neat part of the book, and devastating in its description of children, older men, pregnant women, all of them desperate to get out of the hell that Europe had become for them.

Overall, this book is good. But the hard part for me was the slowness of the action, especially at the end. I kept wanting to yell at the characters to just get on with it. The opening of the book is odd too, since I don't really see where it was necessary at all for the story.

I'll say this--if you like books about the people caught up in WWII, this one will at least be up your alley.