Bullet Reviews: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Ancillary Sword, The Last Mortal Bond

I'm halfway through December reviews, I'm hoping to finish up some bullet reviews for December/January in the next week or two and then start writing actual reviews again soon!

This week is a little bit of a hodge-podge set of reviews; they are all loosely connected because they are all books that I didn't like as much as I thought I would. I had heard so much about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I liked it initially, but then I just got kind of bored with it. I was really enjoying Brian Staveley's Unhewn Throne trilogy, and I'd heard glowing reviews about the conclusion, but I liked the second book better than the third. And finally, I read the sequel to Ancillary Justice since I loved the first book so much, but the second just didn't compare.

Here are the reviews!

2429135The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

Genre: mystery, suspense
Rating: 3/5 stars

What I liked:
  • I listened to the audio version, and I really liked the narrator. He had a perfect tone of voice for this story, I can't put my finger on why I liked it so much but the narration was a definite plus
  • This is sort of a plus and minus: I learned a lot more about random topics than I thought I did. This book goes into a lot of detail about everything from Swedish industry and economics, how the media works, and how guardians are assigned for the mentally ill. It was interesting, but it was also sometimes distracting/annoying because it slowed the book's plot down
  • Lisbeth is pretty cool, even if she's an unconventional protagonist. It was funny to see how so many normal social interactions went sideways when Lisbeth was involved. She is also really amazing at what she does, and I liked seeing how far she would go to achieve something she wants.
  • I was really scared to pick this book up because I'd heard there was a really terrible rape scene and I didn't think I could handle it; thankfully the scene wasn't horrifically graphic or long. It's definitely intense but the writing is dry and goes more into mechanics of the rape than the emotional trauma during the event, which makes it slightly easier to stomach (it's still horrifying though).

What I didn't like:
  • In general, I found the characters rather flat. I didn't really care about any of them, and they all could be described with 5 words or less. Even Lisbeth was just "pretty cool", not particularly compelling. I found her story interesting but I wasn't too emotionally invested in it (and considering the trauma she undergoes, that's saying something)
  • the suspense/mystery wasn't as surprising or compelling as I thought it would be. There are so many pointless interactions and subplots
  • The pacing was really wonky. Nothing much happens for the first quarter of the book, and then the climax happens about 3/4 of the way through the book. It's really hard to focus on picking up the pieces when nearly a quarter of the book is devoted to it instead of just a chapter or an epilogue.
Recommended for... 
People who are curious about the hype surrounding The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I honestly wouldn't recommend it to people who have read a lot of suspense/mystery novels

20753341The Last Mortal Bond by Brian Staveley (Unhewn Throne #3)

Genre: fantasy
Rating: 3/5 stars

What I liked:
  • I like how every book just gets more and more intense. This book really ratchets up the stakes and intensity with every book; you think things can't get worse for the protagonists and then somehow they do!
  • I think my favorite part about this book was the epilogue. I kind of wish the trilogy was plotted so that the story of the first 3 books was compressed into the first 2, and then the third book was all about what happens in the epilogue. I would have liked that story much better :)
  • I really liked Gwenna's subplot and how she got more POV chapters in this book. The Kettral subplot was really cool, even without Valyn. In general the women of this series have grown from being accessories to being important and complex main characters, which I appreciated.
What I didn't like:
  •  I felt like the characters went through tremendous growth in Providence of Fire, but remained pretty stagnant in this book. They are pitted against one another and make difficult choices, but as characters they don't really change motivations or mature or change in any tangible way.
  • This book started to feel too much like a grimdark fantasy for my taste. Grimdark is so brutal, and just so hopeless. It spreads this message of futility and brutality in the world that just makes my bones weary and my soul ache. I don't mind dark stories, but I just don't enjoy this level of hopelessness and futility.

Recommended for: people who enjoy grimdark and aren't scared away by violence and gore.


Ancillary Sword (Ancillary Justice #2) by Ann Leckie
Genre: science fiction
Rating: 2/5 stars

What I liked:
  • Ummm...this is hard. Most of what I liked about this book was just residual feelings of what I liked about book one. I enjoyed the writing style and the world and playing with gender stereotypes
What I didn't like:
  • This book was a very blatant "Ann Leckie takes on racism" and I just felt like the message about prejudice and race was very blunt and unsubtle. I felt like I was being beaten over the head with it.
  • This story is told linearly, unlike Ancillary Justice. Most of the fun of Ancillary Justice was switching back and forth in time as you figured out what was happening and its repercussions, and that's just missing here. There aren't any really big reveals like book 1 either.
  • The complexity of the situation at the end of book 1 is sort of brushed aside. It's hardly addressed, there is literally no progress regarding the Anaander Mianaai situation at the end of this book, it's all about combatting racism/classism on one little planet.
Recommended for... people who don't mind heavy-handed preaching about why racism sucks? I don't know, I honestly wouldn't recommend this book but I do highly recommend the previous one.

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