Wanda's Reviews > The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
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Jul 29, 2010

it was amazing
Read from June 28 to July 29, 2010

I won’t do a full synopsis of this, insofar as others have done so repeatedly and well on Goodreads.
Lisbeth Salander is one of the most fascinating characters ever conceived. She is brilliant, flawed and an underdog who is impossible not to like. My husband and I listened to this on CD and I had a sneaking suspicion that he was falling in love with Lisbeth. On the other hand, I developed a bit of a crush on Mikael Blomqvist as well – reservations only on the “lack of commitment” trait.
One does not need to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in order to enjoy this second installment of the Millennium trilogy. I had and Brian had not; I did find that my reading of the first volume did inform the second. But Larsson managed to fill in nicely without being redundant.
So in this second part of the trilogy, we learn more about Lisbeth. Larsson exposes bits and pieces of her background until a full picture emerges. Lisbeth is an everyperson character who Larsson uses to demonstrate how the ineptitude and corruption of a political system works to destroy the common citizen. Unlike most common citizens who accept injustice, Lisbeth will have none of it, and she fights back. More than once we both were cheering: “Way to go Lisbeth!”
Larsson takes on a great many topics in addition to violence against women in this book: abuse of authority, police corruption, the sex trade, the capitalist media, media “ethics” and corruption at every level of political and civil authority.
I really found the fact that there is no interaction (save on the internet) between Lisbeth and Mikael until the very end, to be interesting and a bold move against what readers might expect from a conventional relationship story. Way to go Larsson! It is a shame that he died so young. This man was truly a gifted writer who knew how to use words – many of them
People have opined that his books are too long. I am usually the first to jump all over editors for not paring down unnecessary verbiage, and I disagree. Each twist, turn, description, musing, moves this story forward and explores both the good and the evil in Sweden – which for Larsson may have served as an “every country” of capitalist society. I would not change a thing.
It is clear where Larsson is coming from in his criticism of late capitalist institutions, but not once did I feel that I was being lectured. In fact, I recognized many of the same flawed traits in Sweden as he describes it as I see in the contemporary U.S. This is skillful social commentary, and we should be thinking about the kinds of institutions that we allow to flourish. I think that these books are a kind of call to arms and a statement that we can do better.
As far as the CDs and reading – it was very, very well done. Simon Vance is masterful and he brought the characters to life. It never ceases to amaze me as to how these professional readers/actors can change their voice and intonations slightly and voila one immediately knows which character is speaking.
If I have any criticism of this book, it is that Larsson overstepped his expertise a bit. Although I am a mathematical idiot, my husband mumbled something about his getting some issue about Fermat’s Last Theorem incorrect. Damned if I can explain what and who cares anyway?! Now, when it comes to Asperger’s I am not an idiot; it’s one of my clinical specialties. I am not at all convinced that Lisbeth has Asperger’s – perhaps something on the autism spectrum but not Asperger’s. But again, who cares? This is one hell of a good read, as was the first. I can’t wait to read the last!
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Shannon Loved, loved, loved this one Mom. I can hardly wait for the next installment to come out! It is due in May...hopefully the request list at the library won't be too long.


Wanda Brian and I are doing this one concurrently and I think he is in love with Lisbeth!


Empress5150 We just watched the movie (Dragon) last night. Slightly disappointed in it; not nearly as well-crafted/developed as the book. Was fairly obvious they morphed some of book two (which we haven't read yet but are definitely going to) into the movie.

Great writer. Too bad he's now dead :-(


Wanda I agree. On the other hand, I read in the NYT that he was going to do more than a milennium trilogy and I think that as much as Lisbeth is a great character, it would have been too much to do more of her. She would not wear well in multivolumes.


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