Book Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire

by Josh Hanagarne on September 26, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire is the second book in the late Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, which began with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (my review). I absolutely loved part one, and the only reason I don’t love part two as much is because it’s not as fresh at this point. Dragon Tattoo was one of the nicest surprises I’ve had–it was that rare thing where I went into a book knowing absolutely zero about it. Somehow, with all the hype, I hadn’t heard anything about the actual plot.

So, what are the good things about The Girl Who Played With Fire?

For those of you just hearing about this season–there may still be some–all of the good things about part one are still present here. Lisbeth Salander, the kind-of heroine, is the star. A truly original creation, she is a diminutive computer hacker who may or may not have some form of Asberger’s Syndrome. Her dark history is complicated, to say the least. This book sheds a lot of light on things in her past that have only been hinted at so far. The revelations are about as twisted as I expected, but make it easier and harder to like Lisbeth.

Much of this book involves her trying to track down her father for reasons that I won’t spoil. Suffice it to say that Lisbeth is not someone you want looking for you when you have done her wrong.

Mikael Blomkvist and the rest of the Millennium staff are here as well, although I’ve never found them as interesting as Lisbeth, but who could be? Early in the story, a pair of reporters who were working on a horrific story about human trafficking are shot before the story can be finished and printed. Evidence shows that Lisbeth most likely committed the crimes. We the readers are reasonably sure that she didn’t do it, but can’t be certain. Not with her.

Throw in some Russian criminals, a gigantic blond assassin who is seemingly impervious to pain, the token Larsson mentions of zillions of Macbooks, and you’ve got quite a tale. It’s not a brief story, but I read it in a weekend. I couldn’t stop. I know people who feel the same way I do, but I also know plenty of people who can’t get into these books, or they outright hate them, or they say that Stieg Larsson is a crappy writer, and so on.

These books have generated some great discussions, and in case I haven’t made myself clear: I absolutely love them!

The series concludes with The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest. Somehow I wrote book reviews of one and three without getting around to part two, a tragedy that has now been remedied.

Who has read them all? Which was your favorite? Least?

Josh

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Aloysa September 26, 2010 at 12:20 pm

I’ve read them all. My favorite was the second book. The least favorite was the last one. Too sad that the writer died. He originally planned a series of seven books. We get to read only three.

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ami September 26, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Loved #1 – great storytelling, fast pace, mind-blowing plot, great twists.

Loved #2 – but maybe because of the good feeling from #1. #2 was not as fast-paced or gripping as #1 – but it was nice to get more insight into Lisbeth and watch her work through what seemed to be impossible problems. Doing a little digesting (like a snake that ate an elephant, I need some time) before hitting #3.

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Michelle September 27, 2010 at 8:00 am

I’m one of the few people who just didn’t fall absolutely in love with these books. I don’t dislike them, but they’re not in my re-read list. I liked the murder mystery part of book 1, the whole digging up family secrets deal, but could care less about the whole Wennerstrom affair.

The second and third books I think read better together as one big book instead of 2 separate ones. But I’m not really into police dramas, and I think that’s what these books are. And I think the big blonde giant (Neidermann I think? I kept getting names switched.) was a little too unbelievable.

I did like them well enough, but I don’t quite understand the hype. On a scale of 1-10, I’d probably give them a 6.

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