June 11, 2012
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Part 1

I HAVE ISSUES WITH THIS BOOK.

I am going to split this review into two posts, because the issues I have are so different and separate that it would be hard, I think, to focus on them both at once.  This first post will cover the obvious themes of the book…those being: abuse, rape, misogyny, etc.

  • I am always uncomfortable when a member of an oppressive group depicts any kind of story about/in the point-of-view of the oppressed group.

I think if there is ever an okay time or place to do this, it is when the oppressed group literally does not have the voice to speak for themselves (i.e. whites who wrote about slaves who were by-and-large illiterate/socially and politically silenced). The better solution, though, is always to allow the oppressed group to speak for themselves (there were plenty of black people/slaves who could, and did, speak for themselves and stimulate social change). As far as I know, women in Sweden were perfectly capable of reading and writing for themselves in 2005. Reading hundreds of pages of a guy writing about the horrors of domestic, physical, and sexual abuse of women just really rubs me the wrong way. We don’t actually need men to speak for us anymore.

I wonder how different (better?) this book and the ones to follow it could have been if written by a Swedish woman.

  • I am always uncomfortable when, to avenge rape/other crimes, the rapist gets raped.

This sentiment is, unfortunately, commonplace. How many times have you heard someone say something like, “Well, at least he’ll get his turn in prison.” RAPE IS NOT A PUNCHLINE. It’s not a plot point, it’s not a joke, and it shouldn’t be avenged by more rape. This implies that in certain cases, rape is okay (or even good) WHICH IS A BAD THING TO IMPLY.

I know that the moment in the book where Salander’s rapist is suddenly her victim is supposed to be a positive, empowering moment for her, but that, if anything, just makes the moment more disturbing.

  • I am always uncomfortable when a rape victim (almost always a woman), shortly after being abused, ends up in the arms of another (a man).

Look, this isn’t to say that rape victims can never enjoy sex again or shouldn’t have healthy sexual relations with anyone. Of course that isn’t what I’m saying. However, this is a technique that’s used quite a bit and it sends a disturbing message. (“Women can be broken by sex but it’s okay, they can be ‘fixed’ by sex too!”)  I would have liked to see Salander be her own person for awhile. She’s emotionally cut-off as it is and tends to turn to sex in self-destructive ways, and it would have been nice to see her….not do that. It actually seems like she might not take that route, but then shortly after meeting him, ends up in Blomkvist’s bed.

Why. I can’t ignore, again, that this was written by a man. 

  • I am always uncomfortable when rapists or other abusers get off scot-free.

Which every man (with the possible exception of Martin, although he willingly chose his own fate so…yeah, probably) in this book does. Although Martin dies, his crimes and those of his whole misogynistic family are swept under the rug. Even Bjurman, although he is threatened into silence by Salander, arguably gets away with the damage he’s inflicted. After all, how can Salander possibly know if he abuses another woman?

Also, slightly unrelated: every time Larsson described Salander’s looks, I wanted to be blind just so I couldn’t read it anymore. ANNOYING.

Part 2 is coming soon..

April 1, 2012
Hunger Games - the movie

I’ll preface this by saying that I am not obsessed with the Hunger Games trilogy. I thought HG was good. Poorly written, sure, but I enjoyed it. Catching Fire was worse. At best, it’s forgettable. And Mockingjay took me months to get through because it was so dull. Anyway, I was actually expecting to enjoy the movie. I wasn’t overly attached to the book so I was open (for the first time, like, ever) to the movie adaption taking some liberties. The story told in this book had the potential to be really, really powerful as a film. 

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April 1, 2012
Prisoner’s Dilemma.

This book is awesome. (As you can probably tell from my quoting the shit out of it lately.) I honestly don’t think I could write a review to do it justice, at least not until I re-read it a few more times. The way this book deals with identity, freedom, family, mental illness, war, escapism, the power of the individual, etc….it’s all superbly well done and really unlike anything I’ve read. The characters feel like people I’ve met, the plot feels like something I lived even though it’s not action-based and has way more to do with exploring the characters than anything else. I felt wholly satisfied after reading the last word, and it reminds me how few books I’ve actually read recently that resound with me this way. (Maybe next year, I should try for 100 AMAZING books instead.) Go read this now! ‘Kay?

March 17, 2012
Just Kids by Patti Smith

Disclaimer: This review will be in no way helpful to you if you’re looking for a concise, well-written, thought-out review about the merits and failures of Just Kids by Patti Smith. No. It’s mostly just me raging. You’ve been warned.

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January 12, 2012
Looking for Alaska

I want to like John Green, I really do, and I’m not even really sure why. I feel like he’s probably a cool guy to hang out with. I liked Paper Towns enough. The thing I really enjoyed about it was how realistic the characters felt. They felt like teenagers, which adult authors tend to struggle with sometimes. Anyway, I wasn’t blown away or anything, but I decided to give Looking for Alaska a try.

(Spoilers ahead. Basically I give away everything, so don’t read if you haven’t read Looking for Alaska and ever plan to.)

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January 7, 2012
Water for Elephants almost quenches.

Put under a “read more” tab for obvious reasons (spoilers to those who have not read “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen) and not-so-obvious ones (trigger warning for rape).

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