Todd’s Review of The Psychology of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo Edited by Robin Rosenberg, Ph.D. and Shannon O’Neill

If you’re like me, then the thought of psychological analysis makes you a little confused.  It’s not that I don’t understand the basic tenants of psychology (I did fairly well in psych 101 in college!), but the finer points of psychoanalysis make me glad that I’m not a psychologist or psychiatrist.  I’m used to hard data, such as percent oxygen, protein yields, and absorbance values.  To observe one’s character and make a complete analysis just based on personality traits or familial history alone is pretty cool.  I just have no idea how it’s done.  Hence, my decision to tackle this interesting field segued well into reading The Psychology of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

Edited by Robin Rosenberg (also a contributor) and Shannon O’Neill, The Psychology of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo compiles the analyses of many experts on the subjects of psychology, psychiatry, medicine, and various other subjects to study the inner workings of the characters within Steig Larsson’s amazing The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. (You can read my joint reviews with Kim on Larsson’s books here, here, and here)  Chiefly, this focus on Lisbeth Salander, the main protagonist of the work, is a huge psychoanalytical undertaking.  Due to her troubled past and history of clashes with a society that attempts to subdue her, Lisbeth has trouble finding herself and finding peace.  The expert analysis begins with Lisbeth’s exterior, examining first why people alter their appearance, whether it be through dress, tattoos, piercings, or other modifications.  Then, the authors focused on Lisbeth, examining why her appearance is radically different than most “normal” individuals, encompassing images that are aimed at provoking others rather than trying to fit in.  After exploring Lisbeth’s appearance, the essays delve deeper into her personality, examining her past and focusing on those around her, both good and bad.  A good deal of work is put into analyzing the relationships that Lisbeth creates with those around her, especially Bloomkvist.  Finally, the work ends on a more positive note, outlining Salander’s achievements, and examining her as a sort of superhero.

Through reading this book I’ve found that there are a series of these works dedicated to analyzing the “psychology of … (insert popular book title here)”.  Although I think it’s an interesting idea, out of all the titles available I feel that this one has the most merit.  The subject material is ripe for psychoanalysis; just judging by appearance alone one can tell that Salander is different, and the types of people she has dealt with in her life are just as psychologically damaged and complex as she is.  A whole book could have been written for each major character, but I’m glad that the editors put most of the focus on Lisbeth, and after reading this work I definitely saw her in a new light.  I never considered her to be an exceptionally strong character (at least in the first book), and I viewed her more as a loaner who finally lets someone (Bloomkvist) in to her personal life.  However, after reading this book and finally elucidating the parts of Lisbeth’s childhood that made her the person she is in the first novel, it’s plain to see that she is an amazingly strong and resilient character who is several times smarter than the average individual.  I definitely have a new respect for her character, and in addition a new respect for Larsson’s work, in that he could create such an innovative and amazingly complex story that integrates all of these multi-layered characters.  In all, it’s definitely an educational read that would benefit those who are having a hard time understanding the motives behind the characters in the Millenium Trilogy.  Definitely give it a shot!

4 out of 5 stars

The Psychology of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo edited by Robin Rosenburg, Ph.D. and Shannon O’Neill
Smart Pop (2011)
Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN: 1936661349

Special thanks to Smart Pop books for my review copy!

SUCCESS!

It is with GREAT pleasure that I announce I’ve succeeded in completing my goal of reading 100 books this year!  I’m a bit behind on posting my reviews, but I promise you within the next week I’ll complete them and get on track for the new year! Since I’ve completed my goal of 100 for the year I’ve thought about increasing my goal for 2012 and am thinking of upping the goal to 110.  I’ll post my definite plans tomorrow in my kick-off post, similar to what I did last year.

2011 has been a pretty amazing year of reading for me.  Looking back I’ve read some fascinating memoirs, heartbreaking fiction, and  suspenseful mysteries among other things.  My top ten for the year with links to their reviews are as follows:

  1. Jane Eyre
  2. One Day
  3. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
  4. The Hunger Games
  5. Stardust
  6. The House At Riverton
  7. Lunch in Paris
  8. A Wife For Mr. Darcy
  9. Eat, Pray, Love
  10. Percy Jackson and the Last Olympian/The Silent Governess

It was SO difficult to come up with a top ten for the year; I have to pat myself on the back for choosing such a wide array of excellent reads.  I do hope that you’ll tell me what you’ve enjoyed reading this year! There is no better recommendation to read a book than a recommendation from a fellow reader!

In terms of the challenges I signed up for this past year I completed the Historical Fiction Challenge and the Page to Screen Challenge with flying colors.  The Chunkster Challenge continues through January 31, 2012 so I still have a month to finish my last two “mega-chunkster” books.  My Austen challenges I did not do so well on.  I only completed 2 of the Jane Austen mystery novels, and completed 50% of the Sense and Sensibility Challenge.  I’m disappointed that I did so terribly on them, but I guess the light at the end of the tunnel is that I still completed my 100!  I’ve already begun to sign up for 2012 challenges, so make sure you head over to my challenge page to track my progress.

I hope that you will all enjoy the holiday today, checking back in tomorrow to join me on my journey of reading in 2012.

Happy New Year, and happy reading!

Life and 100 Films – Charlie’s Film Review of the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Interested in a dark tale of murder and mystery?  If so, look no further than The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, directed by David Fincher and staring Daniel Craig as Mikael Blomkvist and Rooney Mara (yummy) as Lisbeth Salander. This is the second film to be adapted from The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, but the first to be done in English.  Larsson’s work has already been adapted to the screen in Swedish, his native language and the original publication language.

In a nutshell, the film follows a man’s mission to find out what has happened to his niece, who has been missing for 36 years and is feared to have been murdered. The man is Henrik Vanger, the patriarch and longtime CEO of The Vanger Corporation, a Swedish conglomerate that has a large presence in the country.  His niece, Harriet, went missing on a small island that many of the Vanger family members owned homes on. Due to jealousy, money, and evil that permeate the Vanger family, Henrik has very little doubt that Harriet’s killer is still alive, and he thinks a family member is to blame.  It is up to Mikael Blomkvist, who has been hired by Henrik to investigate the cold case, to reexamine the evidence and breathe new life into the disappearance that occurred so many years ago.  Unfortunately for Mikael, however, there are those who do not want the past dragged to the surface again, and this puts him in mortal danger.  Can he escape with his life?

Larsson’s The Millennium Trilogy, upon which the film is based, has become one of the most popular series in the world of literature in quite some time. The Swedish film adaptations have even helped to launch the American career of Noomi Rapace (who I want to tap). But despite all this the most amazing thing about this series is that all the books were published after Stieg Larsson passed away.  He never even got the chance to see what a phenomenon his work has become!

Some were a little upset about the news of American remakes, especially since they happened so soon, but I’m happy about it. I am a fan of foreign film, but this remake is going to allow a broader audience to enjoy these intense stories. Very serious subject matter (both sexual and violent) is portrayed in the film, which may make audiences a little uneasy. However, in order to stay true to the original work it was something that needed to be done.

David Fincher was the perfect person to bring this story to life on the American big screen, and it may be one of his best works to date. I really love the look and feel of his films, and this is a great follow-up to The Social Network. Daniel Craig is good as usual, and he gives us a performance that isn’t exactly what we are used to from him. However on the other hand, the sexy Rooney Mara’s transformation into Lisbeth is what everyone is buzzing about! This is clearly a career role for her, in which she beat out many other Hollywood superstars for the role including Scarlett Johansson, who was the studio favorite. David Fincher fought for Rooney, who he just used in a minor role in The Social Network. All I have to say is she better be eternally grateful for his clout with the studio because he just made her a very in demand actress.

I will leave you with this: I highly suggest you check this film out if you are a fan of the books, want to see an entertaining piece of work, or want to know what all the fuss is about since you are too lazy to read. The film is very long, clocking in at almost 3 hours, so be aware and plan accordingly. Additionally, like I said earlier, the story deals with numerous MATURE story lines that may be hard for some people to see depicted on-screen, so consider yourselves warned.

PS…Word on the Street is both the films sequels, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, will be filmed back to back, so be ready!

4 out of 5 Stars

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2010)
Columbia Pictures
R, 158 Minutes
 
Kim and Todd have reviewed all three books this year.  Their reviews are: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest

#45 The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Cover Image

Kim and Todd here for a joint review of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo!  After hearing a lot of buzz about the novel, we decided to give it a try.  Seemingly everywhere we went, on a train, plane, or any form of public transportation, someone was reading this book.  Of course, after we started listening/reading it we couldn’t put it down either.  Yup, you read that right – listening and reading.  We were taking a road trip one day and, wanting to try something new, picked up the audio version of the novel.  We both got hooked and couldn’t wait for the other to be in the car to continue along with the story.  With that being said we both began swapping CD’s and the book back and forth to continue the story as fast as possible.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo begins with a lawsuit, specifically a libel suit against Mikael Blomkvist, writer and member of the board of directors of Milennium Magazine.  The magazine specializes in writing exposés of famous individuals, bringing their misdeeds to public attention.  Blomkvist loses the suit, which was brought on by an article he wrote alleging billionaire industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström of corruption and money laundering.  He is sentenced to a serve time in a minimum security facility for several months.  Before his scheduled jail time, he is contacted by a man named Henrik Vanger, who offers him a freelance assignment with the promise of a more than generous salary and information that he can use to build a stronger case against Wennerström.  Blomkvist accepts and moves to a small island where most of the Vanger family lives, working under the cover of writing the Vanger family history, but in reality is trying to solve the disappearance of Vanger’s niece Harriet roughly 40 years earlier.  Little does he know, Vanger already throughly inspected his background and personal life using the services of Lisbeth Salander, a computer and investigative expert.  Blomkvist eventually catches Salander hacking into his personal computer and decides to ask her to help him with his investigation.  Meanwhile, Salander’s difficult past is explained, culminating in a brutal scene of sexual assault against her by her legal guardian.  Will Lisbeth be able to overcome the horrors of her personal life so that she can help Blomkvist?  Will they be able to solve the kidnapping that happened almost half a century ago?  Will Blomkvist be able to escape the odd sense that Vanger is not all that he seems?

Kim: The first thing I have to say about this novel is that the writing and language used is just exquisite.  The fluidity of the prose is just perfection, which is surprising, considering that the book was translated from Swedish.  Honestly the only way I can describe the writing is like melted butter on hot lobster. (HAHA – for you lobster lovers out there, my metaphor makes perfect sense)  The imagery conveyed with this prose is at times very helpful in learing what the characters looked like and acted like, but at other times it was too graphic and disturbing.  The subject matter at times got very rough, and I must forewarn readers about a difficult rape scene to get through.  I find myself able to read/watch most anything, I’ve just become desensitized to things over the years, but this proved rough for even me.

 Todd: I think that Larsson crafted an amazing story, and it was so complex that it seemed at times that he had tons of information to get out in a short amount of time.  I think that the writing was on the shorter side sentence-wise, which makes sense due to the translation.  However, this didn’t detract from the overall feel at all.  I think if anything it helped during the scenes of intense action and mystery.  Larsson is great at building suspense, and made me nervous that something big was about to happen throughout the novel.  The addition of Salander is a great plot point in the book, as she adds a sense of vigilante-ism that is missing in Blomkvist.  She takes matters into her own hands, and extracts a certain vengeance that makes her character all the more badass.

Kim: Another point about this book that I really liked, was that it was an intelligent mystery.  It really required you to pay attention to what you were reading to pick up on the subtleties of the clues.  Blomkvist is definitely one of my favorite protagonist having read this now.  The way he goes about trying to solve this 40+ year mystery is astounding.  I wish my brain functioned like his does!

Todd: I definitely agree with Kim’s point about this being an intelligent mystery.  Not only do you get sporadic clues and delve deeper into the circumstances surrounding Harriet’s disappearance, but you also have to deal with increasing attacks on Blomkvist and Salander’s own well-being.  Someone very badly wants to keep Harriet’s disappearance a mystery, and when that plot point is finally revealed I almost fell out of my chair.  Larsson takes the typical mystery/suspense setup and really turns it on its head.  It is an amazing and complex read.

Kim: I felt smarter after reading it!  The weaving of Salander and Blomkvist’s stories together into one meshes really well. I do also have to say that Todd and I watched the Swedish version of the film and I’d highly recommend that also.  The film sticks close to the book, dropping some of the subplot out for time purposes, but the main bulk of the plot is intact.  I can’t recommend this book enough for those of you wanting to push your brain to a new limit.  Larsson’s writing will have you without a doubt transcending to a new literary level.

Kim: 5 out of 5 Stars

Todd: 5 out of 5 Stars

This is my fourteenth completed review for the Page to Screen Challenge
 
This is my sixth completed review for the Chunkster Challenge
 
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group (2009)
Paperback 672 pages
ISBN:  9780307473479

New Year; New Challenges

January 1, 2011.  It’s the official beginning of my new challenge!!  I have 365 days to read 100 books.  I’m partaking in two reading challenges this year (that I’ve signed up for so far) so 11 of those books are the Jane Austen mystery series and 20 of them will be historical fiction novels. I’m excited that I’m mixing it up this year and doing some reading challenges as well.  I think it will help keep me motivated throughout the year. 

I’m really looking forward to some of the titles that I’ve decided to read this year.  I have a very eclectic group to read so far.  Some of the titles include:

  1. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory
  2. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (It’s the 200 year anniversary of the book this year!)
  3. Little Children by Tom Perrotta
  4. Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason by Helen Fielding
  5. V For Vendetta by Alan Moore
  6. Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes
  7. You Better Not Cry by Augusten Burroughs
  8. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  9. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  10. The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo by Stieg Larsson
  11. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  12. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  13. The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
  14. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

I have a much bigger list than this, but I’m really looking forward to the specific books above!

So now that my new challenge has begun I would like to encourage you guys to do your own challenges.  You don’t have to read 100 books like I do, but you can do something similar to Todd and try for between 25 and 50.  You are always welcome to post on the blog thoughts about your own reading challenges or about specific books.

If you decide to do a challenge: Good Luck and Happy Reading!