I have this kind of snarky-sounding theory. I don’t mean it in a snarky way, though. I just know that while I’m a freak who reads entirely too many books there are other people out there who don’t read that many books at all. I know a lot of folks who do other things with their time like ride bikes, climb rocks, operate on babies’ hearts and cook gourmet food but don’t care for reading. They read a book every now and again if it intrigues them or if they want to keep up with watercooler conversation or have something to do in an airport besides eating fast food. But since Society has decided that Reading Books is somehow this extra-virtuous thing to do, instead of just another leisure activity, folks feel compelled to talk up the few books they do read with inordinate praise.
This is the only reason I can think of for the overwhelmingly positive feedback I’ve gotten on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I hadn’t cared to read it but finally gave in earlier in the week. Everywhere I went people were raving over the wonderfulness of this thing, praising it to the skies and giving it four- and five-star ratings. I figured, hey. What the heck. If the whole world loves it, it must be good.
It’s not good. But it’s the worst kind of not-good book out there. Once you make it past the really dry introductory section on financial shenanigans in Swedish Megabusiness (yawning yet?) the ‘real’ story grabs you and compells you to finish the book in record time. You will be compelled to keep reading through multiple scenes of torture porn and other grisly forms of violence. But then you will get to the end and want to throw the bloody thing across the room in anger. (Please note that this is a major drawback–and one not oft-mentioned–with the Kindle. $300 electronic devices don’t bear up as well to frustrated-reader tossings.)
I swear to you this book is the equivalent of White Castle burgers. You will wolf it down only to have your system regret it when it’s all over.
After I finished the thing I read several reviews I’d avoided beforehand so that I wouldn’t have the ending spoiled. (It’s a mystery of sorts.) Fully two-thirds of the rave reviews said something along the lines of “I don’t normally read that much” or “I’m not one who likes to read a lot of mysteries”. I can only conclude that these folks have had so little exposure to truly GOOD books that they don’t recognise the many ways in which this one…wasn’t. Again, there’s nothing wrong with not reading. Of course as a writer I wish people read more. It’s not a problem if they don’t. Unless they start telling me that subpar books are actually excellent.