For some reason, I didn’t hop on the ‘Millennium Series’ bandwagon when the first of the three novels – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – hit North American bookstores in 2009-2010. I think a part of me thought it was another Twilight fad, which was something I had no desire to be a part of.
It wasn’t until I read about the release of the American version of the film that I became intrigued. If a series of novels is popular enough to be published posthumously, turned into three Swedish films and further turned into an American adaptation, it must contain a good plot line.
I purchased The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo a week before Christmas last year, and finished it in two days. The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest quickly followed, and by the beginning of the New Year I’d read the entire trilogy. As a whole, the novels were engaging, well written, interesting and at times, spooky. Finally, I understood what all the fuss has been about.
There are two main characters in the series. The first – and most important, in my opinion – is skinny, mid-twenties, asocial computer hacker Lisbeth Salander. She has a troubled past and is deemed to be mentally unable to care for herself. However, the diagnosis passed down by the court does nothing to curb Salander’s photographic memory and love of mathematics.
The second character is journalist Michael Blomkvist. He is a womanizer in his forties who crosses paths with Salander unexpectedly in the first novel. After their initial interaction, the pair is hopelessly connected throughout the rest of the series. I believe the author modeled the character Blomkvist after himself (with a bit of wishful thinking when it comes to the many women he has relationships with throughout the trilogy).
One of the original covers for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo…
Swedish investigative journalist Stieg Larsson wrote the ‘Millennium Series’ as a personal project. When he came home in the evenings from his stressful job documenting and exposing corrupt Swedish organizations, he would work on the manuscripts as a way to kick back and relax. Larsson apparently submitted the series to publishers once, but was rejected. After he died suddenly in 2004, the novels were discovered and published posthumously.
The content of the ‘Millennium Series’ is quite eerie. Some of the recurring themes include violence against women, men who hate women, mental instability and murder. Larsson witnessed and wrote about countless violent and disturbing events throughout his career as a journalist, and he included fictionalized accounts of many of his real-life experiences throughout the series.
Larsson’s long time partner – Eva Gabrielsson – is currently in possession of Larsson’s computer which contains a partially-completed, fourth Millennium novel. There are also rumours that the computer contains synopsis or manuscripts for a fifth and sixth novel. Gabrielsson has stated that she is capable of completing the fourth novel, and I’m interested to see if she will actually do it.
There is currently a legal struggle over Larsson’s work, and this is making it difficult to move forward. Larsson and Gabrielsson never officially married, even though they lived together for many, many years. According to Swedish law, any married couple must publicly declare their address, making it available to anyone who is interested enough to look it up. Larsson was concerned the people he was investigating might track down Gabrielsson and hurt her to get back at him, so they decided not to marry to keep their address private.
Unfortunately, a partner is not technically a spouse in Sweden, meaning that when Larsson died she was entitled to nothing – not even his computer that she currently is in possession of. All of Larsson’s estate is to go to his father and brother, who are his next of kin. At the time of his death – and for many years prior – Larsson was estranged from both men. Gabrielsson is fighting the legal battle of her life to get both Larsson’s money and the rights to his novels and other literary work.
It’s a crazy end to an already amazing story, and I really hope she wins. I would love to know what happens to Lisbeth and Michael next…