Monday Melting Pot: The Girl Who Played With Fire

The Princess' First Book Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson, the follow up novel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

When Michael Blomkvist hires Dag Svensson to write an expos̩ about sex trafficking in Sweeden and how young girls are abused by government officials, he doesn't realize he's ignited a deadly investigation Рespecially since his former lover, computer hacker Lisbeth Salander has broken into his computer and wants to take matters into her own hands.

Things get heated with the murder of Dag and his girlfriend, Mia and Lisbeth becomes the prime suspect, her fingerprints discovered on the weapon. Blomkvist is convinced of Lisbeth's innocence and, alongside the police, launches an investigation of his own. To evade capture, Lisbeth vanishes but keeps in contact with Blomkvist via cryptic notes sent to his desktop which feed him clues to the person behind it all: an enigmatic man by the name of Zala. Layer by the layer as the investigation reaches its climax, the onion is peeled back until we, the reader, reach it's rotten core.

Review: Admittedly, I started this book right before Thanksgiving, on the plane from France to Los Angeles. I was about 88 pages into it when I got distracted (sleepy) and put it down. I didn't pick it up again until yesterday. And I finished it this morning. Yes, regardless of the brief reading hiatus, it was a real page turner.

What I like about Stieg Larsson is his ability to layer plot points. Sure, some of the plot points are obvious, but he makes up for that with his pacing, and also the surprise at the end of this story. (I was able to predict the villain in Dragon Tattoo way before the ending). I also love the way all of the characters are developed. You can picture every one in them in your head. I wouldn't say Lisbeth is a very likable person as he's painted her (I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be friends), but she is a very likable character.

With that said, the only problems I had with the book were:

a) There are soooooooo many characters, oftentimes it was difficult to keep track of the names. Sweedish names. Occasionally, I had to review what I'd already read because I got a bit lost.

b) The main villain, the man they call Zala, has a diabolical super-evil speech. It felt a bit silly, almost cartoonish. "I will rule the world. Mwa-huah-huah."

c) Like it's predecessor, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the pacing is a bit slow in the beginning, but then it picks up. In Fire, this is because of all the back story and Lisbeth's newly found obsession with math, the subject matter of which may interest my rocket scientist husband, but I found myself skimming.

In sum, I really like the world of intrigue and danger Steig has developed, and I'm really looking forward to the third installment, The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest. Lisbeth Salander is the character who keeps me coming back for more.

Pages: 630

Stars: 4.5 out of 5

Here's the preview for the movie of the same name:

Note: After reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I rented the first movie, which is in Sweedish, but sub-titled in English. It was done so well and Lisbeth was cast so perfectly, I hope they don't remake it.

SOUND-OFF: Have you read any/all of the books in this series? What do you think? What's the last good book you've read?


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