The Girl Who Played With Fire–Stieg Larsson

Book: The Girl Who Played with Fire
Author: Stieg Larsson
Publisher: Vintage Crime
630 pages (Trade Paperback)
My Rating:
4h stars

Lisbeth Salander has vanished into thin air leaving Mikael Blomkvist wondering what happened in The Girl Who Played with Fire, the second installment of The Millennium Trilogy. Blomkvist has returned to his position at Millennium and is working on a new story involving human trafficking with researchers Dag Svensson and Mia Johanssen. The sex trade is an insidious but thriving business in Sweden and the researchers are about to blow it wide open and name key players in the trade. When Svensson and Johanssen are found murdered, Lisbeth Salander is the prime suspect. Not believing that Lisbeth would commit murder, Blomkvist decides to investigate what happened to his friends and try to clear Lisbeth’s name.

It’s been quite awhile since I picked up the Millennium Trilogy partially because I have sort of been waiting for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest to come out in trade paperback so my set will be complete (yes, I am one of those people that doesn’t like mismatched books). I broke down because several people I knew were reading The Girl Who Played with Fire and I thought it would be fun to talk with them about it. It turned out to be a good book for discussion as we talked about Mikael and Lisbeth as characters as well as some of the supporting characters in the book. There is definitely a need to suspend disbelief in this book just as there was in the first book. One of the main issues people have had with books that I’ve spoken to don’t believe that Lisbeth has Asperger’s Syndrome. I think The Girl Who Played with Fire explores Lisbeth’s behavior much more and makes her less of an enigma than she was in the first book.

The sex trafficking was also a really interesting topic for Larsson to write about since it is such a taboo subject but is so pervasive in society. While it was written in a fictional/thriller style, I think it did bring light to a very serious topic that needs to receive more attention. The book reminded me a little of certain scenes from the movie Taken starring Liam Neeson. I also like how he wove the story together to bring Lisbeth and Mikael onto the investigation together despite Lisbeth being pursued by the authorities. The book also kept with the theme of “men hating women” which makes the books fit together like a puzzle and continually sheds new light on Lisbeth.

I should also note that Lisbeth’s guardian, Bjurman, makes an appearance in The Girl Who Played with Fire. I was hoping that Larsson wouldn’t let that story go by the wayside since it was one of the most memorable storylines in the The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. A mild spoiler alert here: I thought the storyline between Lisbeth and Bjurman came to a really satisfying conclusion in this book.

The only problem I had with the book was the end. One of the final scenes left me scratching my head. For the sake of not spoiling the book for those of you that haven’t read it, I will withhold the specifics, but I will say that I found the end really unbelievable and had to really suspend disbelief to not completely groan at the end. Even with this part, I really enjoyed the book overall and definitely recommend it to those of you that enjoy thrillers.

After I read this book, I watched the Swedish film of the same name. While I didn’t like it quite as much as the first film, it was still really well done. Mikael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace are amazing actors, and I still can’t quite wrap my finger around the idea of an American film. For one, the books are SO Swedish that I really enjoy listening to the Swedish language in the film even if I can’t understand more than a few words of Swedish! I also think the actors embodied the characters so well in the film that there was no need to make a new version of the film. Yes, it does give Sweden more publicity which I am happy about because for the few days I visited Stockholm some years ago, I fell in love with the city. I would love to go back someday and see more of Sweden. Hopefully a blockbuster American film will show people that Sweden has some excellent writers and amazing culture and beauty. Other than that, I recommend that people see the Swedish version of the film. It’s good to branch out and see how other countries make their films. They usually have such different flavor that I tend to really enjoy them. The major complaint I have about the film in general is that while the book tied Mikael and Lisbeth together quite well, it definitely worked better on paper than it did in the movie. There was a disconnect between Lisbeth and Mikael because they had almost no scenes together in the entire film—the book ties  them together through written word much more effectively than a film ever could. Other than that, it was really well done and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I highly recommend The Girl Who Played with Fire as a great read and a good movie.

1 / 5 books. 20% done!
This is my first book for Zee’s Nordic Challenge

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