Number of Pages: 724
Release Date: May 9th, 2006
“Mikael Blomkvist, crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past.”
It’s been years since I read the first book in this series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which means that this sequel was long overdue for a read. Fortunately The Girl Who Played with Fire is well worth the wait!
Let me start by saying that the attention to detail in this novel is impeccable. Each character has a unique, complex background, so much so that even the minor characters seem like main ones during certain scenes. All of the different settings featured in the story are incredibly specific, such as where Lisbeth went on vacation, her two apartments, etc. Some of the details are a bit frivolous- the exact furniture in Lisbeth’s apartment or the clothes she is wearing, for example- but I actually think they added more depth and dimension to the story. I had a full image in my head of what was happening, and there weren’t any giant gaps that I had to fill in on my own. Larsson has accomplished the kind of intense world-building that usually only occurs in fantasy or science fiction novels, which I find extremely impressive.
Moreover, Lisbeth is a fascinating character. She is simultaneously good and bad, scrupulous and immoral, admirable and repulsive. She stands up for abused women and routinely visits her ill friend, yet she doesn’t think twice about resorting to extreme violence to solve her problems. She is very secretive and introverted, to the point where the few people closest to her begin to question whether or not they are even friends. My opinion of Lisbeth changed so frequently that now I honestly don’t even know what to think. I feel like she has good intentions (most of the time) but her actions and attitude could use a positivity boost for sure.
My favorite character is definitely Mikael Blomkvist. He’s level-headed and thoughtful, but not afraid to burst into action when necessary. I give him so much credit for putting up with all of Lisbeth’s crazy schemes and secrecy- I don’t know if I would be able to do the same!
The mystery itself is really well-planned and written at the perfect pace. I was never bored, and each time I put this book down all I wanted to do was pick it right back up again. I really like how the actual mystery isn’t introduced until about a third of the way through the story, because I was constantly on my toes waiting for something to happen. When it finally does occur, you don’t hear about Lisbeth directly for a long time. Because of this I honestly had no idea who the murderer was until it was revealed towards the end. I was even doubtful about whether or not Lisbeth had committed the crimes- I wouldn’t put it past her! The actual resolution is really clever and I never saw it coming. That’s one thing I love about this series– just when you think the well of plot twists has run dry, yet another one comes and turns everything you thought you knew upside-down.
My only problem with this novel and series so far is the immense amount of violence and graphic details. This really is a personal preference, but I would rather not read about the violence with such specific details. Tell me Lisbeth punched that guy in the head, but not how his skull caved in so gruesomely! Ick! I think this story could benefit from leaving a bit more of it to the reader’s imagination.
Overall, The Girl Who Played with Fire is a terrific read. It’s gripping, insanely suspenseful, and very cleverly written. (And can we talk about how it’s translated from the original Swedish? WHAT?!) I think this sequel is just as good as, if not better than, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and I cannot wait to read the next book in this series!
My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5 smileys.
Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely!
Have you read any books from this series before? What did you think of them? Let me know in the comments section below!