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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: The Girl who Played with Fire (Millennium #2) by Stieg Larsson

Publisher: Penguin
Published: 2006
Pages: 724
Source: Borrowed (Thanks Auntie!)
Rating: 3.5 Stars

Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government. 
But he has no idea just how explosive the story will be until, on the eve of publication, the two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander—the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and who now becomes the focus and fierce heart of The Girl Who Played with Fire. 
As Blomkvist, alone in his belief in Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the slayings, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.

In short: The Girl who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson maintains the same general layout as its predecessor but as a bonus, Salander's backstory is detailed extensively.
Uh, can I just say ditto? I have pretty much the exact same comments to make on this second installment that I had in my The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo review. Again, this book was an intelligent murder mystery cloaked in a bevy of unimportant details that were completely unnecessary to the plot. Why is it necessary that the reader knows about every single item that Salander buys from IKEA to furnish her new apartment? I just don't understand why things like this weren't edited out. It takes the entire first half of the book to set up the plot and action in the second half.

At least I wasn't as horrified by the plot this time around, now that I know what to expect and have become a bit more accustomed to the terrible and graphic abuse and violence that takes place. The Girl who Played with Fire still had the same disgusting, women-abusing type of bad guy as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but I found that I could be - if still a bit horrified - very satisfied to see those sadistic pigs, perverts, and rapists get their comeuppance.

I am also extremely satisfied with the answers we got regarding the backstory of the one-of-a-kind Lisbeth Salander. I stated in my The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo review that she was the only character I developed any investment in and she was the main reason I wanted to continue with the trilogy. In fact, now that I've gotten a good understanding of her (well, as much as anyone can really understand Salander [in other words, not really]), I almost don't feel the need to continue on with The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

Still, The Girl who Played with Fire ended with a bit of a cliffhanger that most definitely makes me want to read on to find out whether all the characters made it through that intense final sequence. But it can wait for a while. I'm suffering from some serious YA withdrawal and I need to get me my fix.

*Read as part of the Into the Old World Reading Challenge
*Read as part of the Book Series Completion Challenge


  1. I haven't read the third book either. One reason is due to the fact that I was somewhat spoiled for it, but a larger part has to do with needing a break from the intensity and violence of the series. There was definitely more than enough that I needed to walk away from some of the "stress." :P I hope to get to it soon, though.

  2. I've only read the first book of this series. I read about 100 pages of the second one, but I keep stopping before I really get sucked in. I want to just sit down and finish it some time.

  3. Hm. I haven't read any of these books though I've seen them everywhere and thought about picking them up:) The abuse and violence doesn't seem overly appealing to me however, I have to be in the right frame of mind to deal with that and I don't think I'm there at the moment. Thanks for this review Aylee, for all the places I've seen these books I haven't actually read any reviews for them!

  4. Yay for a good backstory? :P
    I'm glad this second book wasn't as horrifying. I'm still not too interested in starting this series, considering its slow start. =/

  5. I'm kind of surprised the series is as popular as it is if it has so much unnecessary filler.

    I'm not sure why this series hasn't ever really appealed to me. Of course I've seen the books around but haven't even really bothered to read what they were about. Your reviews are the first I read for the series. Interesting that you say you dont' feel the need to continue.

    I'd say it is totally fine to get back to your YA! ;)

  6. Ok in all fairness, I think I may be the only person on Earth who hasn't read this series. I've heard so much about it, but somehow, I've not been drawn to it at all. Is this one book #2? I heard book #3 was a letdown.

  7. I actually liked this one more than the first one for some reason.

  8. Great review-- it rang very true with what I thought of the first book. I've only read the first one, but I'm thinking I'll have to read this one very soon. Lisbeth is such an intriguing character... but you're absolutely right, this series is positively populated with sadistic perverts and rapists around every corner!

    I had no idea this was 724 pages, though... it just went down a few notches on the TBR list! :)

  9. Gah! The IKEA list, the grocery list, the endless cups of coffee! Why does he think we need these details! I think one problem is that these were released posthumously, and I'm wondering if editors weren't sure what to cut or if his estate made them release them without edits. I truly don't know, but I like to think that's what happened, especially since it seems to get worse with each book.

  10. I enjoyed the first book, but I stopped with that haha I can't deal with laundry lists of details in books. Thanks for your honest thoughts on this one, Aylee :)

  11. Aylee: Why is it necessary that the reader knows about every single item that Salander buys from IKEA to furnish her new apartment?

    If all those things turned out to be important later on, it would be a different story. But, this one and its predecessor should have been edited to reduce the length and stick to the important parts of the story. Great review, Aylee.

  12. Stephanie: I really needed a break from the violence as well. Sometimes YA is just good for relieving steam and stress... and this series is most definitely not good for that.

    Alison: The beginnings of the first two (and presumably the third as well) books are very slow, I find. Once you get to the halfway point, they do pick up a bit and get interesting, if you can make it there.

    Jenny: Right, I feel I have to be in the right frame of mid to read these kinds of books as well. I'm not sure if summer is a good or a bad time to read them... if it would ruin the light summer mood or if it is better than reading in the dreary winter.

    Lauren: If you don't think it would be for you then I wouldn't waste your time. You probably have many more fun BEA books that you'd rather read :)

    Missie: Despite the unnecessary filler, it is a rather good thriller, edgy and violent and real and horrible. Not light bedtime reading but I can see why people would enjoy reading them. I can also see why some people, like you, might have no interesting whatsoever in reading them though :)

    Gina: Nah, loads of YA readers haven't read this series, I'm sure, probably because it's a lot more adult than what they like in a relaxing, enjoyable read. This is book 2, and yeah, I've heard that about book 3 as well.

    Jillian: I think I liked it about equally... but I certainly enjoyed learning more about Salander.

    Logan: I was thinking the same thing. Because I can't think of any other reason why anyone would think stuff like that is necessary to know. And I didn't notice until you mentioned it but yeah, he does drink tons and tons of coffee! Good grief. THat can't be good for you.

    Melissa: Yeah, I was able to look past the laundry list of details mostly. That is, I was able to just skim over those parts, barely reading them :)

    Zahida: Exactly. When I read the first book, I thought, well maybe these things are somehow important for later on in the book? Turns out no. It's pretty silly, really.

  13. Thanks for your honesty! I wouldn't like all of the unnecessary details either. I hope you're enjoying Fury. :)

  14. I already didn't want to read this series, but the more you and the comments talk about the endless silly details, the more DO NOT WANT I'm getting :P

  15. Heh, yup I definitely would not recommend the series for everyone. Especially with your penchant for DNFing books, I'd say skip it.