December 6, 2010

The Girl With The Dragon Tatoo - Steig Larsson

This story has it all: suspense, thrills, espionage, romance and a murder mystery. Steig Larsson has writes a brilliant story about the duo Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist. Mikael is a disgraced journalist who is trying to get back at an industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. He is employed by Henrik Vanger, the ex-CEO of the Vanger empire, to solve a 36 year old murder of his neice Harriet Vanger.

The story twists and turns around the many members of the Vanger familu such as Martin, Cecelia, Gottfried, Isabela, Anita and Harald, among others. The mystery is on the island of Hedeby where most of the Vanger family live. Lisbeth is an extremly gifted girl and Mikael is a investigative journalist with unconventional problem-solving skills. Lisbeth and Mikael join forces to unravel the myster that surrounds Harriet. The story starts off slow, but it picks pace very quickly. Pretty soon it ends up being a page-turner.

The original title was in Swedish and we see some Swedish words such as Glögg
(a type of wine), Kronor (Swedish currency) etc. This gives it a nice international feel to it.

Life of Pi - Yann Martel

Life of Pi won the 2002 Booker Prize. This is a simple book with a very interesting story about Piscine Patel, a.k.a Pi. The book starts of with Pi's childhood in Pondicherry, India. His father is the owner of a zoo and Pi describes the exotic animals. He draws a lot of similarities between animal and human behavior. Pi discusses a lot of philosophical points. For example, he argues that the animals in a zoo are content with their private spaces and regular food as opposes to fending for themselves in the jungle.

The story becomes really interesting when the family decides to emigrate to Canada. Around this time the story takes a turn in such a way that he ends up on a lifeboat with a tiger in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. He manages to survive and live harmoniously with the tiger. Its a story of despair, hope, survival and triumph. In the end we realize that the human mind works in strange ways.