Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Played With Fire
5. The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson, translated by Reg Keeland (2006 in Swedish; 2009 in English)
Millennium Trilogy, Book 2
Read my review of:
– Book 1: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Read By: Simon Vance
Length: 18h 34min (512 pages)
Genre: Mystery / Thriller
Started: 23 December 2009
Finished: 13 January 2010
Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was a hugely pleasant surprise, so I was definitely going to read the sequel.
Working outside the
system is fine until the
system comes for you.
Summary: After the life-changing events of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, journalist Mikael Blomquist and introverted hacker Lisbeth Salander have gone their separate ways: Mikael back to his magazine, and Lisbeth (and her stolen millions) off to travel the world. Salander has cut off all communication between them, but their lives are about to be thrown together once more. When one of Mikael’s co-workers is killed in a grisly triple murder, the police target Salander as their main suspect. Mikael’s convinced she’s innocent, but finding the real killer will mean delving into the world of prostitution, gangsters, and the sex trade… as well as uncovering secrets from Lisbeth’s past that she’d thought were buried forever.
Review: I don’t know how Larsson does it – his books are pretty far outside of my normal reading preferences, in a genre that I’m not crazy about, and have little about them on the surface that would suggest that I would like them… and yet I find them totally fascinating. Part of this is certainly his ability to write realistic, multi-dimensional, and sympathetic characters. Salander in particular is one of the most unique and unforgettable protagonists I’ve come across in recent years, and Larsson has a way of writing her that makes even her running errands interesting.
This incredible characterization also helped me get and stay involved in the mystery itself. In comparison to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the mystery in The Girl Who Played With Fire was a lot more internal – focusing largely on secrets from Salander’s past, rather than some third party. I loved learning more about her, although at the same time, whenever the book shifted away from her point-of-view for too long in favor of people talking about her, it lost a little of its appeal. In general, though, I stayed involved in the mystery, which, although it doled out clues at a slower and patchier pace, was well-put-together and without any gaping plot holes, and even managed to surprise me once or twice.
There were a few things about this book that I wasn’t crazy about. First, I feel like this book maybe needed one more pass through an editor. Larsson is very fond of a lot of detailed description about everything and everyone in his book, and I really don’t need to know the entire backstory for every single John Q. Minor-Character. This is compounded by the fact that there are a LOT of peripheral characters to keep track of, which was something with which I really struggled. It’s partly because most characters are referred to only by their surnames, partly because most of those surnames were very similar (at least to a non-Scandinavian ear), and partly because I was listening to the audiobook rather than reading, so I couldn’t easily flip back and check, but I spent a fair amount of time confused as to who among the minor characters was doing what.
Another point, which didn’t bother me so much, but is worth mentioning – The Girl Who Played With Fire does not wrap up all of its loose ends. In fact, it wraps up very little, instead ending rather abruptly with a hell of a cliffhanger. Maybe Larsson used up all of his endings on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which seemed to have three or four too many, and so was fresh out of denouements by the time he got to the sequel? 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: For all of the random backstory that Larsson gives about other things, he doesn’t spend much time recapping the events of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and since I think the success of this book really depends on the reader being emotionally invested in the characters, the two books need to be read in order. If you liked the first book, though, this one is a worthy successor and well worth your time.
Other Reviews: Another Cookie Crumbles, Bailey’s and Books, A Book Sanctuary, Books for Breakfast, Confessions of a Bibliophile, Crime Scraps, Fleur Fisher Reads, A Garden Carried in the Pocket, The Literate Housewife Review, Mysteries in Paradise, Reactions to Reading, Redlady’s Reading Room, Rhapsody in Books Weblog, S. Krishna’s Books
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First Line: She lay on her back fastened by leather straps to a narrow bed with a steel frame.
Cover Thoughts: Love it. Very eye-catching, I love that it loops through the title, and I love that it could be both fire/sparks, and long blond hair.