Friday, February 28, 2014

Millennium Trilogy - Stieg Larsson

Can I just start by saying, This series has the best damn audiobooks I've ever listened to, and I don't even care that the bolded sentence within this sentence ends in a preposition. It's that damn fantastic. Thank you, thank you Stieg Larsson and Simon Vance. I could not stop listening!

A couple people who have read the books told me they thought this would be hard as an audiobook. I presume listening to someone speak about the gruesome rapes and murders would be worse than reading them--you can always skip over uncomfortable parts when you can see the words to know when you're in the clear. However, it didn't particularly bother me. Was it easy? Of course not.

But one benefit outweighed that negative: Listening to the books produced the distinct advantage that I didn't have to guess, or just ignore, the names of persons, places, and things that I couldn't pronounce. It was fabulous!

Something else about the audiobooks that I enjoyed? The reader doing different voices for the characters. That can be kitschy and annoying rather than helpful. But these books were so dialogue-heavy that simply reading the text without tonal clues as to who was speaking, would have produced some confusion for the listener. Simon Vance is a master, and I could not only recognize the different voices for the main characters, I honestly was not distracted by the variety. It felt almost like listening to a TV show, but was less jarring than the books that include different readers for the different characters.

Now, a quick word on the books themselves: Compelling. Literally, if I only had one word, that would be it. This is a damn compelling story. 

These were a whirlwind of twists and turns. Some things I never saw coming. Others I thought would happen but did not. Uh, Lisbeth's twin, anyone? Where is she! The characters were familiar by the end of the third book, but not so familiar that the plots were entirely predictable. I love the extremely despicable bad guys and the flawed but loyal good guys. They were easy to hate, easy to like, and most importantly: easy to judge. I felt the books required a lot of passing judgment or assessing others' judgments was an integral part of the book for the reader. No one was perfect--even Blomkvist who oddly never abandoned Lisbeth had his downfalls with the womanizing. Where did Harriet Vanger go, by the way? She just disappeared. Is that one of the other women he referenced toward the end of the third book? And did he stay in love (so very out of character) with that muscular woman? Also in the world of loose ends: whatever happened with Hacker Republic? Did they just leave Sweden one day? These sorts of soft endings and ghost-like characters may have been answered in later books (almost undoubtedly would have, actually).

One thing I did not do while listening, surprisingly, was question the legitimacy or the reality of anything happening in the books. Realistic? Hardly. But it didn't bother me, and I assume it's because how, for lack of a better word, real the characters were in contrast to their amazing skills and situations.

I do so wish this series had made it to the 10 planned books. We're definitely suffering a loss with Larsson's death.

This is a must-experience audio series. Get to it! And if you've already read the books but would consider rereading them, pick audiobook instead for a likely different but highly enjoyable experience.

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