Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo)

I am sorry for the lack of posts this week–everything is off balance with my travels of the past weekend, but I am going to try and get back on track with the traditional Wednesday post about a book which has inspired me. Today I am talking about a series. A series which was tragically cut short and is very different from any of the other inspiring books I have written about on here. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, or Millennium series. I picked up the first book in the series randomly one summer when I was in college and looking for a snappy read to pass a long road trip–the book perfectly fit the bill. Not sure what to expect, I was instantly swept into the action and the non-conventional characters. Aside from being a compelling thriller that is sometimes physically impossible to put down, the three books in this series have lessons that all writers can take inspiration from. 

First and foremost are the characters–they aren’t your typical protagonists. Lisbeth Salander, the tattooed, bisexual, computer hacking genius with a photographic memory is not the standard archetypal female protag. And Mikael Blomkvist, while on the whole a very classic, likeable protagonist, is not without his confused, rather infuriating womanizing tendencies. Thus, these two protagonists are presented to readers and given ultimately compelling situations and challenges, making the reader invested in them, even when they don’t deserve it. These kinds of characters which blur the line between black and white right and wrong are, in my opinion, some of the most interesting types of characters–readers indentify with them, trust them and root for them while in reality, if they were to meet these people on the street, they might shy away or be judgemental. Through the art of writing and the act of reading, one is transported to a much more open-minded place. 

Next, I must credit Larsson for his treatment of controversial issues. He is not afraid to introduce rape, murder, and socio cultural issues onto the page. He shows this underbelly of society which most people might not want to talk about and makes it front and center to his plot line. Larsson’s advocacy for women in these books is incredible; through Lisbeth Salander, he shows a woman being put through hell and by placing her in a contemporary setting, he reminds readers that her story is not fiction for some. 

Larsson’s treatment of the contemporary setting is something I take inspiration from as well. Many of the books I read are historical or fantasy, so it is important to read things set in the present. Larsson does this in a very gripping manner. The reader feels like they have actually visited Sweden after reading the book, and (in my case anyway) leave the reading feeling very inclined to actually make a visit over. The books portray the very essence of how an American feels after traveling to Europe–that they have just experienced something very familiar and yet distinctly foreign. 

The only aspect of Larsson’s series that I don’t enjoy is that fact that it ended. The ten books originally planned are now just three due to the author’s untimely death. I read somewhere online that the outlines for the remaining seven books exist. I was talking to my Dad about how I was cheated out of the remaining books and said I hoped someone would write them for Larsson someday based on his outlines. Dad’s response, “Maybe that someone could be you.” If only I could do them so much justice!