Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist: My New Heroes

I’ve seen all three original Swedish films of Stieg Larsson’s The Millennium series. I’ve read the first book  (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) and started reading the second one (The Girl Who Played With Fire) two days ago. And now I can’t wait for the American film version of  The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo! So, it’s pretty obvious — I can’t get enough of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist!

For those who are not familiar with Stieg Larsson and his books, here’s a brief backgrounder.

Stieg Larsson was (and still is!) one of Sweden’s (and the world’s) best selling authors. According to Wikipedia, Larsson was a witness to a gang rape incident when he was still a teenager. This dark moment in his life left a bad mark on him, which also led to his hatred for violence and abuse against women. The Millennium series, which was published posthumously (he died in 2004)  from 2008 to 2009, is a clear indication of that hatred.

In The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, originally titled “Men Who Hate Women”, we meet Lisbeth Salander and get to know her story. Lisbeth’s life is nothing extraordinary, but it’s also full of marked moments – those moments you want to forget but simply cannot because they were too painful. We then become witness to Lisbeth’s transformation from a secretly oppressed individual to somebody women haters would love to hate.

And then we are introduced to Mikael Blomkvist, investigative journalist extraordinaire and part owner of the Millennium publication. His magazine is the perfect venue for exposing financial fraud and other shady activities involving public personalities, like Hans-Erik Wennerström, a Swedish industrialist. The Dragon Tattoo actually begins with Blomkvist losing a libel case filed by Wennerström against him. Blomkvist and Lisbeth eventually meet when he is hired by the wealthy Henrik Vanger to find answers to a cold case involving Vanger’s niece, Harriet.  And so starts a simple plot that turns into a complicated game anchored by men who hate women. Blomkvist and Lisbeth work together to solve the case – with style, with awesome action, with great minds, and with Lisbeth’s cool gadgets!

A screen shot from The Girl Who Played With Fire

The second book in the series, The Girl Who Played With Fire, continues the story of Lisbeth and Blomkvist. This time, Blomkvist is using Millennium to clear Lisbeth’s name by coming out with a story about her. A lot of the characters in the first installment of the book make a comeback in this story.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (or “The Air Castle That Was Blown Up) tells the story of how Lisbeth exacts her revenge on all the people who “raped and oppressed” her. Blomkvist continues to help Lisbeth. This time, though, he gets help from Erika Berger, co-owner of Millennium. Many of the characters who figured prominently in the first two books are also in this third story. In fact, a number of them play important roles in Lisbeth’s revenge plot.

Larsson’s storytelling is detailed and vivid. All the characters are played out well, and all the situations are practically real life-based. There’s no denying how many Lisbeth Salanders and Mikael Blomkvists there are in the world. It’s not difficult to empathize with them.

I can’t really pinpoint a specific reason why I love Larsson’s books, and Lisbeth and Blomkvist. They just make a great impact on me.  After I finish reading a chapter or two, everything stays with me for days. Sometimes, I wonder about what I’d do if I were in Lisbeth or Blomkvist’s shoes. And, oh, the fact that Lisbeth is supposed to be suffering from Asperger’s Syndrome but still manages to kick a** is another thrilling fascination for me!

If you haven’t read any of the books, or if you’ve never seen any of the original Swedish film versions, now is the best time to do so. I guarantee you, you’ll love the experience! For more information about Larsson and The Millennium series, check out this link. You may also want to click this link. For those of you who want a sneak peek of the American remake, click this link.

Happy reading and viewing, everyone!

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