Rank : Azmarie , Laura , Kyle , Catherine , Annaliese , Eboni , Alisha , Ashley ,
Bottom 2 : Candace & Ashley
Eliminated : Candace
This book is the second in the Millennium series written by Stieg Larsson. I have reviewed the first book here.
While the first book introduces Salander as a character, this one goes in-depth into her troubled past, and the reasons why she is the way she is. The mystery is Salander itself.
Book Synopsis WITHOUT SPOILERS:
Mikail Blomqvist and another reporter from Millennium magazine are investigating a story on sex-trafficking – young girls are being brought from Eastern Europe, and forced into prostitution. This investigation threatens to bring down many high-ranking Swedish officials who are involved directly or indirectly in this trade.
Unknown to Mikail Blomqvist (the hero from the first novel), the investigation touches upon Lisbeth Salander’s past with whom he is no longer in touch.
When the journalist doing the primary research on this story is murdered, suspicion falls upon Salander. Blomqvist believing her innocent, starts his own investigation into what really happened.
My review WITH SPOILERS:
First off, I have to say I loved this book. It was fast-paced, gripping, with just the right amount of thrills. That said, it’s not perfect. Heck! anything rarely is!
However, one major plot point seems outrageously weak to me. It was hard for me to believe that the Swedish Secret Police (Sapo) would work so hard to maintain and protect Zalachenko (a Russian secret service agent who defected to Sweden) long past his use/value to Sweden. Even when he becomes a complete embarrassment, he is protected by them. Why? How much easier would it have been to kill and dispose him of quietly? No one would have made any fuss about it. If Salander could find and track him so easily, then it should have been a cakewalk for the Sapo. The addition of a James Bondesque villain (a giant man who is incapable of feeling pain) also brings down the standard of the book.
Apart from these issues, I did not find any flaws in the book. I even liked the mundane details of Salander’s life – the shopping in Ikea, her standard diet of Billy’s Pan Pizza. Those details showed just how isolated and lonely her life was.
I am rather puzzled at the inclusion of the character of Paulo Roberto (a
non-fictional boxer) who plays a minor role in the book. His role in the story is not at all relevant, and nothing would have been lost from the book, if his part in the story was not included. Anybody have any ideas why he has been included in the book?
If you close your thoughts to the above voices of reason, and if you loved Salander from the first book, you will love this book wholeheartedly.
Note: I am including this book towards the Orbis Terrarrum reading challenge.
I am still on the classics kick as you can see! After the mammoth Bleak House, I thought the relatively slim Gulliver’s Travels would be a cakewalk. Not true at all! In some ways, this was a more challenging read.
Anyway, on to the synopsis:
Gulliver’s Travels really is a compilation of 4 different journeys:
Journey to Liiliput
Journey to Brobdingnag
Journey to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Gluggdubdrib and Japan
Journey to the land of the Houyhnhnms
Lilliput: This is the most popular story, and one that I read (an abridged version) in childhood. Of course at that time, the satire went completely over my head. This time, things were a lot more understandable. In this story, Gulliver gets shipwrecked onto an island occupied by miniature people. These people are very similar to our own with the same vices we have. And Swift uses these people as a mirror to highlight our own follies (focusing primarily on politics and kings).
Really famous image of the Lilliputians binding Gulliver
Brobdingnag: In this second voyage, Gulliver is shipwrecked onto an island occupied by giants. At first, he is contemptuous of them, thinking them an ugly race, but as he spends more time, he begins to appreciate the king and his government. The king and Gulliver have long discourses together comparing their ways of living and Gulliver comes away feeling embarrassed about England and it’s government.
Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Gluggdubdrib and Japan: I found this book the weakest among all the books. It was all too fantastical for me – a floating island, a race of immortal people, servants of ghouls…there was just a bit too much squeezed into this section for my taste. In addition, Swift uses this journey to satirize scientists who are always working on impractical discoveries. Somehow, this section was not really convincing. I mean, if scientists did not spend time and money trying to invent new things, then how would the human race have actually grown so much so fast?
Houyhnhnms: This is probably the most savage and the most pessimistic of his journeys. In this journey, Gulliver finds to his amazement that men have degenerated into savages (called Yahoos) and are now being ruled by an intelligent and benevolent race called the Houyhnhnms (who are horses that have evolved into intelligent beings). Gulliver is devastated to find out this degeneration and after several discourses with his master Houyhnhnm, he decides he wants to continue living with them. Unfortunately for him, he is not one of them, and is soon asked to leave. He returns home and struggles to re-adjust himself to mankind’s treacherous, lying ways.
My thoughts on the book:
First up, I want to say that I found Swift’s language and grammar rather difficult to adjust to. He had an unfortunate habit of inappropriately (at least in today’s English usage) capitalizing words right in the middle of sentences. An example is the opening sentence of this book:
I hope you will be ready to own publicly, whenever you shall be called to it, that by your great and frequent Urgency you prevailed on me to publish a very loose and uncorrect Account of my Travels; with Direction to hire some young Gentlemen of either University to put them in Order, and correct the Style, as my Cousin Dampier did by my Advice, in his Book called, A Voyage round the World.
Oh, and did I mention he was verbose? It took some time to get used to such a style, but was able to ignore it once the story starts to get going.
Another thing that bothered me was his use of satire. I generally prefer humor to be more subtle. In many places, it felt that Swift was using a hammer to convey his point when a sharp prod of a knitting needle would have been more effective. In places, his jokes are vulgar and gross too.
I was also expecting some kind of adventures in the book, and although he does have adventures, the focus is really on the dialogues…and there are pages and pages of extremely pessimistic dialogues . Reading this book made me feel that Swift must really be quite a misanthrope, and that does not really suit me.
But in spite of it all, I think this is a book that people should read. It’s not easy reading, but he does make some good points that I can appreciate, and I can understand why this book is termed a Classic. In spite of my negative points on this book, I am glad I read it
Btw, it’s so cool that two words which are commonly used today probably originate from this book:
Lilliputian is now a word that is used to refer to something that is small.
Yahoo is now slang used to refer to uncouth people living in remote places.
Isn’t that so cool?
First of all, wish you all a happy Valentine’s day/belated wishes depending on which part of the world you live in.
Wish you all a happy Valentine’s Day
I have read some blog posts about people’s favorite Valentine Day reads and thought I’d like to list my favorites too…
The only thing is I can think of more movies that I like to watch than books I like to read. My husband is not a big reader, so when I read it is a solitary activity but movies are different. We can both get to watch together and enjoy a shared experience. That is of course, if we both enjoy the same type of movies (not always the case).
Anyways, here is a list of my top 3 romantic (to me) movies that I love to watch over and over…
Life is Beautiful – Such a wonderful movie and so full of love – romantic as well as paternal.
Jerry Maguire – I think Tom Cruise looked his best in this movie, plus that awww-inducing cutie be-spectacled little boy and Renee Zellweger…all at the top of their game. Love it always.
Bridget Jones’s Diary – Probably the only conventional romcom that I like/let alone love. Probably because I adored the book so very much. All the lead actors are great, and Hugh Grant is especially great as the sleazy boss. Am I the only one who thinks he makes a better sleaze ball than a romantic lead?
When it comes to romance in books, it is much harder for me to create a top 3. Mainly because I tend to like romance novels based on the author’s writing style. So, here I list my top 3 romantic authors.
Georgette Heyer – I love how she does historical romance with massive doses of humor and satirical commentary and minus the bosom-heaving sex scenes.
Jane Austen – For the same reasons as above. Just wish she had written more books though.
Victoria Holt – Because I like romance with a spice of mystery and danger. Her books are standard gothic romances.
I have to add that Gone with the Wind – the book and the movie are one of my all-time favorites.
What are your favorite romantic books/authors and movies?
What romantic books/movies do you loathe? For me, the answer is easy.
In books, I hate Barbara Cartland, and books in which rape plays any sort of part.
In movies, pretty much any standard Hollywood/Bollywood fare that is released during Valentine’s Day time period, and pretty much any romantic movie starring Sandra Bullock/Jennifer Aniston/Jennifer Garner.
Rank : Azmarie , Sophie , Laura , Kyle , Catherine , Seymore , Annaliese
Bottom 4 : Alisha , Ashley , Candace , Eboni
Eliminated : None
Quit : Louise