- Translator: Reg Keeland ( pseudonym of Steven T. Murray)
- Series: Millenium Trilogy
- Genre: Crime, Mystery, Thriller
- Published: January 2009
- Pages in Paperback: 724
- Preceded by: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
- Followed by: The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
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Crusading publisher Mikael Blomkvist has decided to run an explosive expose of a wide-ranging sex trafficking operation. Just before the piece is published, the two reporters responsible are murdered. The fingerprints on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled hacker genius Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Lisbeth herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, and is forced to face her dark past. —Source
Review on the Characters:
Lisbeth Salander– I have to say I worried about Salander not being as captivating as in her debut novel (no faith- I know) but I worried needlessly. Salander is not only as captivating as she was in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but actually more so in The Girl who Played with Fire. This woman, even though she is often mistaken as a young teenager (the dream, right ladies?), is incredible. She possesses clarity and a single-mindedness that I long for very much. Lisbeth can be presented with as complex a problem as possible and carry out the solution without hesitation. Her philosophy is there are no innocents, just varying degrees of responsibility and she seeks to uphold that philosophy. There is no doubt that Lisbeth Salander is why people read the Millenium trilogy for she is a character that you will find no where else.
Mikael Blomkvist– Mikael’s character stayed consistent with which he portrayed in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. With that said, I found that I actually like him less in this novel. Lisbeth often refers to his ‘practical pig’ syndrome and it was this syndrome that drove me crazy. His personality became this one element making the character read a little bland. I’m hoping that the final novel of the series, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, will show a little more depth in Mikael’s character (and less sandwiches).
Alexander Zalachenko– For me, the buildup for Zala was too big and I was left a bit disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, I get that he is an evil genius who hates women (him and every other man in this series) but I guess that when we finally got to meet Zala I was hoping to see an even match for Salander, but that wasn’t the case. Of course this could be due to the fact that Salander is THE badass of all badasses. (Excuse the language, Salander brings it out in me).
Ronald Niedermann a.k.a. The Giant– Now this is what I was expecting from Zala. I’m not talking about physicality, I’m talking about someone who could potentially threaten Salander. (For Zala I was hoping he would have the wits to serve this purpose, but alas Salander was just as smart if not smarter- or so it seemed). The Giant had me thinking, how are the good guys going to win? I love that Larsson created this tank of a character and made him human by adding a mental illness that causes hallucinations of creatures. While I fear this character, I also feel sympathy towards him as I discovered that he never stood a chance in life; his life was already paved for him. (Although Lisbeth of course causes it to go astray).
Jan Bublanski– Like Blomkvist, this character reads a bit too bland as a character who always does the right thing. Don’t misunderstand, also like Blomkvist, I respect the character (as one of the only men who does not hate women) but I know what Larsson can do with characters (look at Salander) and I have come to expect better from him.
Hans Faste– I found this character equally boring as Bublanski except for the exact opposite reason as the previously discussed character, Faste always said or did the wrong thing. I know that Larsson is trying to criticize society (and as a woman I appreciate it) but there are too many men in his series that hate women for no valid reason. If Faste had an explanation for the way he was then I would be more content but he does not, allowing him to blend in with several other character in the series.
Review on the Story:
I found the story to be much more exciting than the last novel, but that is because it follows Lisbeth Salander more closely and I am very much biased towards this character. (If that’s not already obvious). Larsson included an increased amount of twists and turns pressing the reader at times to question Salander’s innocence. The social commentary behind the story is a subject the reader can tell means much to Larsson. He exposes the way women are viewed in society in such a way that it can not be ignored, allowing The Girl who Played with Fire to entertain and educate.
Review on the Writing:
Sadly, Larsson again loses points in the area. He continues to add useless jargon (I’m beginning to think his editor is sleeping on the job). If Larsson had cut out all the sandwich eating, coffee drinking and brand names (if I read IKEA one more time…) and replaced it with character depth he would have had a much better novel. However, this seems to be his writing style and it only slows down what should be a fast paced novel. (Big time).
Without a doubt, I am so thankful I picked up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and loved it so much to continue with The Girl who Played with Fire. I will be purchasing the third and final novel soon (soon as in already bought) to finish Lisbeth Salander’s story.
In spite of the novel suffering from Larsson’s writing style and making it slow in parts, Larsson has written an incredible piece of work or rather- character; Lisbeth Salander. You must read this book just to come to know this character for she is a character that will sit among the greats. You should also read this novel for the social commentary element. Larsson brushes on sex trafficking and the way women are viewed in society. His voice comes alive with clarity only adding to the unfortunate fact that he has passed away.
So if I have not already made myself clear, I recommend this book (if only for Lisbeth Salander).
P.S.- My next read is The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Ready for Salander to kick some ass)