Review: The Girl Who Played With Fire — Stieg Larsson

Read: 68
To Go: 32

Book List
61. Skyward — Mary Alice Monroe
62. The Journals of Sylvia Plath — Sylvia Plath & Ted Hughes
63. Dust Tracks on a Road — Zora Neale Hurston
64. The Silent Woman — Janet Malcolm
65. Memoirs of Montparnasse — John Glassco
66. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic — Alison Bechdel
67. A Secret Kept — Tatiana de Rosnay
68. The Girl Who Played With Fire — Stieg Larsson

 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.

(Full disclaimer: this description is on the back of the book. Assume from now on that all of them are.)

I’m sure it will shock no one when I say that I’m going to do the quick-and-dirty review rather than something longer. So here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly on The Girl Who Played With Fire.

The good: the plot. The plot was absolutely, mind-blowingly fantastic. If I picked up the book, you’d have to pry it out of my hands to get me to put it down. I read for five straight hours tonight, and that was totally ill-advised. Believe the hype: this series is fantastic, and TGWPWF totally surpassed the expectations that TGWTDT had set for me.

The bad: the mystery itself. Larsson, I found, held out a little too long on the big reveal. I suppose that’s bound to happen when the book in question is seven hundred and twenty-four pages, but I was starting to think there would never be an explanation of Lisbeth’s troubled past or the large connection between the man named Zala and her dead guardian, Nils Bjurman. The pay-off was well worth the frustration I had while grasping with plot straws, but at the same time it probably should have happened much, much earlier.

The ugly: speaking of book length, that would be the ugly. There was absolutely no good reason why this book should have been any longer than 400, maybe 500, pages. As with TGWTDT, Larsson didn’t seem to know how to differentiate between plot-relevant information and “he went to the store and bought a sandwich.” There was a two-page description of Lisbeth’s trip to IKEA, and as much as I love IKEA it was totally unnecessary. Perhaps the manuscripts were left in their original state to pay respect to the dead, but a little editing would have cut out many, many pages of irrelevant detail. I don’t care what Mikael had for lunch, or the long list of food Lisbeth bought at the grocery store!

Definitely read it. The book is fantastic. Just a wee bit totally too long.

Next book: I just bought five today, plus I have three waiting for me, so not sure yet. We’ll see.

Next feature: I’m sorry, I should really stop doing this headline. I’ll put something up soon.

– Kelsey

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