'The Girl', the book, the movie

/ 17 August 2011 /
Much has already been said about Stieg Larsson's acclaimed book, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo". It has garnered well-deserved praise for being a thrilling mystery novel and a remarkable jumpstart to the equally-remarkable "Millennium" trilogy.

Now here's a view from a woman's perspective.


The novel's main story is an investigation on a missing member of an affluent clan in Sweden. The plot thickens as the case spans across boundaries -- geographically, technologically, and emotionally. This alone takes us for an intense roller-coaster ride.

But it's not the main plot that makes this book extraordinary. It's the heroine.

Lisbeth Salander is no ordinary woman. It's not just because she wears black makeup and dark clothing. Not just because she was orphaned yet grew up to be an intelligent computer hacker. And it's really not because she has a dragon tattoo.

The most exceptional thing about Lisbeth is that she is a female victim who knows how -- and chooses -- to fight back.

And no, she didn't undergo just an ordinary breakup with a boyfriend or a loss at a contest, as many other stories would have it. She had it worse: she had lost most of her family, had been alienated as a social outcast, and had received grave physical and sexual abuse.

But Lisbeth has her ways. In this book, at least, she stands up for herself in such astonishing methods, making even abusive men look like wimps. Smart, determined, and capable, Lisbeth Salander is like a punk-goth Superwoman in human form.

The only vital thing that this heroine isn't capable of is dealing with her own emotions. Growing up through troubled years have led her to become a troubled woman -- so much so that by the time I finished reading the book, I actually felt more sorry for her than proud of her.

Still, this first "Girl" novel serves as a superb commentary on abuse against women -- especially women who are realistically fragile and susceptible to it. Even though it's basically a thriller-mystery, it does not try to hide its undertone of social remarks regarding the 'woman issue'. Instead, it actually emphasizes it using facts, inserted between chapters, about abuse of women in Sweden.

As someone who's all for woman empowerment, I love this book. I'm not saying it's empowering; it's actually a bit startling (okay, frightening) at some points, and I wouldn't really vouch for Lisbeth's take on 'girl power'. But I see it as a defense for women, a spotlight on how tricky this world has become for the female species. The heroine's carefully-kept but fragile emotional system makes the novel even better -- her struggle to stay tough is almost endearing, if not relatable for some of us.

The book has already been adapted into a Swedish movie, and now, an American version is in the works. The latter will feature Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander (yes, she was that sweet-looking girl who played Mark Zuckerberg's college girlfriend in "The Social Network" -- can you imagine?). I have high hopes for it, especially because award-winning director David Fincher is doing it, but I am definitely relieved that I had read the book before the Hollywood movie comes out. I mean, they do have a reputation of being disappointing, right? :D

Oh, and if you haven't read it already, go do it now! We have two more "The Girl" books to cover, so hurry up!

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This blog is going to be weird or irreverent or relatable, depending on who you are and who I am being. I give my best hello to 'outcasts' like me who may or may not like this blog: HELLO!
 
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