This is a new series for my blog, wherein I will discuss whatever book or books I’m reading or have just finished that week. Feel free to post in the comments what you’re reading this week, too, or your own thoughts about the books I discuss.
1/6/11: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
I have finally jumped on the bandwagon. I am finally reading the first book in the Millennium Trilogy that everyone else seems to have already read. For those (two or so) of you unfamiliar with it, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is about a Swedish financial journalist recently found guilty of libel and a young private investigator (who has a dragon tattoo, among others) who are hired to solve a 36-year-old mystery.
While reading the beginning, I realized that I can’t remember the last time I read an adult novel. I have been reading YA almost exclusively for several years now. I recently had to explain to someone what makes a YA novel different from an adult novel, and while I did okay (it’s all about the perspective of the person telling the story, the voice, getting inside the head of the main character), I now have more things to add to that list.
The first several chapters of this book are about 75% backstory – a complete and utter no-no in YA. I’m at about page 100 (of 590 in my paperback version) and the action is only just beginning. Up until this point in the novel, we’ve been learning about the major players (the journalist and the investigator) and how they reached the starting point of the book.
This is in such stark contrast to the YA novel I’m currently revising, for example, in which I just cut out the entire first chapter because I realized it was at leat 50% backstory.
So how did a book with so much backstory up front captivate so many readers? For me, I find the setting (Sweden) exotic and unfamiliar and that’s something I like. I’m interested too in where some of that backstory seems to be leading us. And it’s written in a somewhat familiar style that makes you feel like someone is telling you about these people while you sit around a fire drinking aquavit.
I look forward to seeing where the various threads will lead.
(But I would also like to finish it as soon as humanly possible, because I just got Matched by Ally Condie and I’ve been wanting to read it for months!)
Happy Reading, my friends!