In my opinion, this is one of the tougher prompts of the challenge. I picked this book, but I might be fudging on my reasons why:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
My heritage is Swedish, and I have always had a deep love for anything from Sweden. When a book series by a Swedish author blew up, I was really excited— and when that series dealt explicitly (in all senses of the word) with violence against women, I was determined to champion their importance.
This is one of my favorite books of all time— I love the depiction of complicated, crazy-smart women; I love the men who respect them. I love the storyline and its complexity. I love the weirdly detailed menus of every meal every character eats… seriously. And I love the picture we get of modern-day Sweden, especially how often people are making and drinking and getting offered coffee. It’s actually a huge part of my heritage: coffee.
What I hate: that the violence in them is necessary. These books would not be as powerful without the violence and injustice and exploitation that is presented— and I’m glad they are so powerful! But I hate that these books remind me of all the very real reasons I should be carrying mace around with me and taking boxing lessons. I hate how realistic this book is. I wish the world weren’t that way. I wish such horrible things didn’t happen. In order to get a point about social justice across, sometimes it’s necessary to whack people over the head with it. Stieg Larsson went twice as far in his depiction of violence against women for that very purpose. To get people’s attention. To say, “this is happening.” Larsson was not perfect (nobody is), but when Sweden is one of the best places in the world for women to live, and violence against them is still this bad, we need someone to be shouting. And I love that Larsson, in his journalistic ways, has exposed some of that reality in the form of these crazy best-selling books— and hopefully made people more aware.
Even if you have no interest in the social issues represented by the Millennium series, they are still really fantastic, suspenseful mysteries, and I’d recommend them for lovers of the mystery/thriller genre anywhere. In addition, both the Swedish and American film adaptations are worthwhile.
Curious about the rest of my answers? Find a list of them here.