Tuesday 3 January 2012

Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire By Stieg Larsson

What a relief to finally finish this book.

I feel like I've been reading it FOREVER. Well, at least a month, anyway. Which is unusual for me. It's partly because I've been so busy, partly because of the size, but I think mostly, for awhile there, I just didn't feel compelled to pick it up at all. Don't get me wrong - the story of Lisbeth Salander accused of murdering three people, and Mikael Blomkvist's search for the truth, is an interesting one, and the writing is good overall. The first part dives straight into action, and although it still takes awhile to get to the main plot, I really enjoyed reading it. The ending is also great - once I got to the last third of the book, it was hard to put down as everything came into place. It was just the middle I had a lot of trouble with.

I think the main problem is Lisbeth Salander. She's such an amazing character and undoubtedly the star of the series. She's kick-butt, complex, uncompromising, unique and brilliant. She absolutely leaps off the page when she appears. So when she doesn't appear - like, in the whole middle section of The Girl Who Played With Fire - the pages feel flat and dull. She's still part of the story, as the team investigating the murders comes together and begins to hunt her down, but she's not actually present, and her absense is definitely felt. Now, I like me a murder investigation, but unfortunately the bulk of this one was just so boring. I felt like every time I picked up the book, a new character was being introduced, and their whole life story was revealed in intricate details, and I JUST. DIDN'T. CARE. I get it, it's Larsson's style, but there were so many characters that I had difficulty tracking who was who (especially as it was often days between readings) and I just wasn't invested in most of them at all.

When Lisbeth finally appeared again, I think I literally breathed a sigh of relief, and read the rest of the book in a matter of days. Once again, to Larsson's credit, there were some major twists that I did not see coming at all. I love it when a book catches me by surprise. So I closed the book feeling satisfied. But even though there were quite a few threads left hanging for The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, I have to say I don't think I'm going to pick that up immediately. I'll get to it soon, because I really want to know how it all ends, of course, but at the moment I feel a bit fatigued by the series. Time for some mindless, easy fluff, I think.

Rating: 3/5

Spoilery Talking Points
  • ZOMG I was NOT expecting Zala to be who he was. I thought maybe Lisbeth had been kidnapped and abused as a kid, but finding out what "All the Evil" really was, was completely shocking. In a good way.
  • I knew she didn't do it. Still, she's pretty mental. In a good way.
Fine Print
Genre: Crime
Published: 2009
Get It: Abe Books


  1. Not going to read your review because I actually just started this today! haha How funny!

  2. I actually wish Michael's role in the book was WAY scaled down.

  3. I found the same thing. I was satisfied by the end of this one, but by then I had well and truly had enough. I have not read the third and don't think I am likely to pick it up. It feels like enough pages already, and I really liked how this novel ended.

  4. I understand the fatigue, but don't give up on the series completely. I enjoyed the finale more than the second book.

  5. It's nice to read a balanced review of this book, usually they are overwhelmingly positive without much criticism. I'm hoping to read it in 2012.

  6. @April - Fair enough! Let me know what you think!

    @KThomas - It was very heavily focused on him, wasn't it? I get the feeling Larsson based Blomkvist on himself, but I could be wrong.

    @Lois - Thanks for stopping by!

    @Mel - Glad it wasn't just me, then! I did like how this one ended, but then a friend said it's really the first half of the story told by the last two books. So I will read the third... just not now.

    @Jo - I'm interested to know which one I like best - so far it's the first book.

    @Sam - Thanks! I'd love to know how you go with it. :)

  7. Ugh. That pretty much sums it up for me. I liked the first one (ish) but the thought of picking this one up just seems like an amazingly large amount of effort.

    Thing is, I didn't even dislike the first one. It's just that, you're right, it feels like you've been reading it forever.

  8. So glad I'm not the only one, Hanna!