Reading (or not) super-popular bestsellers

Anybody read TWILIGHT? I didn’t. I heard too much about it.

FIFTY SHADES? No. Ran the other way after hearing WAY to much about that.

DA VINCI CODE? Nope. I heard from people I trust that it not only suffered from a stupid plot, but was boring. I know, I know! Lots of people seem to disagree, but still. Didn’t read it.

I read the Harry Potter series, though! Which I think are very well written. Sure there are huge, huge, massive holes in the worldbuilding, but building a tightly crafted world was not the point, right? And yes, I personally agree that the last book could easily have lost at least a hundred pages. But still. The writing is excellent, the details charming, the characterization good, the plotting good. It’s nice that one super-popular series deserved to be super-popular.

And now? Well, now I’ve just finished reading THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO. A friend forced it upon me. And it’s really good! I was delighted. I enjoyed Mikael Blomkvist, the main character; I enjoyed the secondary characters, and yes, I really particularly loved Lisbeth Salander, the girl with the dragon tattoo. I guess I have a soft spot for protagonists who are borderline sociopaths. Or whatever Lisbeth is.

I hadn’t really known anything at all about the book previously. Except I’d read this blog entry by Nathan Bransford, so I knew the book has a “notoriously slow start.” Well, I’m not especially put off by a slow start.

Also, here’s what Nathan said about the characters:

“What makes these characters interesting is that they are seeming contradictions. Lisbeth has all the outward appearances of a surly, irresponsible youth, and yet she’s wildly competent at her job. Armansky is simultaneously attracted to, vaguely repulsed by, and paternal toward Lisbeth. Blomkvist is buttoned up and seemingly honest, and yet he lives a cavalier private life and he seems to have been improbably set up in a conspiracy.”

I didn’t remember this paragraph clearly, but I had a vague memory that Nathan had said something about the characters being interesting. Now that I read this paragraph again, I find I sure can’t put it better than he did.

Nathan describes the prose as “clinical” and “authoritative” and I think that’s right, though I didn’t really think of it that way while I was reading the book. Actually, I think that kind of prose might not only contribute to the characters feeling real, but to the (rather wild) situations that come up feeling real, too.

As far as the situations? This is a mystery and in some ways a thriller and the plot gets pretty intense at times. As a mystery . . . well, I was not surprised to find out who the bad guy was. Or to find out what really happened to Harriet all those years ago. I would say the details of how everything works out are very satisfying, even though the big picture wound up being a bit predictable for me.

I also have concluded that in some ways I’m a lot more like Lisbeth Salander than Harriet Vagner. That is, if I’d been in Harriet’s, um, situation, I think I’d have taken Lisbeth Salander’s way of dealing with, um, things. And then people could have spent forty years wondering what happened to *him* rather than *me.*

Not sure I’m going to rush out and get the second book, though. I liked where the first one ended up.

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