Book Review: Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (Stieg Larsson)

Sometimes as a reader, you curse yourself for not reading a certain book sooner, when everyone was telling you to. Why did you put it off until now, especially when all signs pointed towards its amazingness? When such a thing happens, it’s not a huge catastrophe, but you’ve certainly prolonged being indulged in a masterpiece. And that was precisely the case with me and Stieg Larsson’s Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Some books waltz into our lives, with great depth and dimensions, so much so that the characters find a happy place in the backseat of our memories. They become faded images of people we used to know. Yet there is another category of books altogether. This one is unique. It contains those books that surprise you, unexpectedly capturing your attention, your time, your nights. The characters in these books formulate before your eyes, within an arm’s reach, and stamp themselves all over your memory. You can’t forget these characters as easily, they don’t fade into the background. Instead, they and the stories they bring to you, stay fresh and vivid – it’s a weird, enchanting magic they have. Everyone has their own unique list of books that stick out in their thoughts. Mine would include the Harry Potter collection (first and foremost), along with Anne of Green Gables and many more. Larsson’s novel ended up having the same magic I had been warned about, and it is one book I will remember for a long while.

Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is set in Sweden starring Mikael Blomkvist, the editor of a financial magazine called Millennium. He is found guilty of libel for an article he published exposing a shady financier and while awaiting his sentence, Mikael is presented with an interesting proposition (enticed to be exact). Wealthy owner of Vagner Corp, Erik Vagner, hires Mikael out to his family’s hometown in countryside to investigate the cold-case murder of his teenage niece, Harriet. The cover story though, is that Mikael is writing a family history of the Vagners as Erik wants every single person involved to be thoroughly researched. Of course, with the investigation comes years of history, and thus Mikael decides to hire an assistant. Into the story comes Lisbeth Salander. (here comes the excitement!)

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Book Review: Song of Achilles (Madeline Miller)

Summary: In the age of heroes, we find our own hero, Patroclus, as an awkward and weak prince who has never gained the approval of his father. As a result of certain events, he is exiled to Phthia to be raised under the wing of King Peleus and his remarkable, demi-god son Achilles. The two boys are complete opposites, yet eventually bond and develop a strong friendship. As years go by, they grow even closer and spend countless hours together, training in war and medicine. Their loyalty and closeness is despised by Achilles’ mother, the goddess Thetis, yet the relationship prevails. Soon, there is word that the beautiful Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped by a  prince from Troy and as the men of Greece are bound by oath to protect, they must leave for war in her name. Achilles joins the warriors, and as his loyal companion, so does Patroclus. The journey to Troy and the battles that await, will test their friendship and love, as the Fates begin to unravel obstacles that lie in their paths. With bravery and sacrifice, the two boys from Phthia slowly carve their names into legend.

Favourite Quote: I stared at him, straight as a spear stabbing the sky. I could not find the words that would reach him. Perhaps there were none. The gray sand, the gray sky, and my mouth, parched and bare.

Review: I loved this book, finished it within a day! Winner of the Orange Prize 2012 and NY Times Bestseller, The Song of Achilles is beautifully written and transports you into a world that is both incredibly powerful and real. The story of Achilles (minus the Brad Pitt-Hollywood glam) is a truly captivating tale of romance, friendship, loyalty, and brotherhood. And Miller’s novel gives you a deep and enriched view of  events from the eyes of Patroclus – which is totally unique because she writes a story honoring Achilles without even using him as the voice! I loved getting to know things from Patroclus’ side and it was remarkable how everything fit into place from start to finish.

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