Review: Stieg Larsson's THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE

When I read the first book in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (see my review here), I finished it in a two-and-a-half-day marathon. I beat my own record when I swallowed Fire in 34 hours minus 6.5 hours for sleep.

The books’ heroine, Lisbeth Salander, might appreciate these details since she’s some kind of mathematical savant who enjoys working with numbers. But that’s only one of her talents. She’s also a genius computer hacker, boxer, and master of disguise, a skill which, in this latest adventure, helps her elude a massive police manhunt after she becomes the prime suspect in a triple murder. The only person who believes in her innocence is Mikael Blomkvist, the journalist from Tattoo whom she helped crack a case. He comes to her aid this time by hunting down clues which might lead to the real killer(s).

As the investigation progresses, details from Salander’s past slowly come to light, specifically about incidents she calls “All the Evil.” I was already captivated by her in the first book though she was maddeningly opaque at times, behaving in ways I couldn’t understand. After much of her attitude and unique code of ethics are explained in this book, I’m more deeply drawn to her, though pity is not amongst the emotions I feel since Salander would never want that from anyone.

As with Tattoo, you’re getting a lot of bang for your buck here. This book is a thriller, police procedural, exposé on sex trafficking, and psychological study. The exploration of Salander’s psyche makes Fire an even more compelling book than Tattoo, The Empire Strikes Back to Tattoo’s Star Wars in more ways than one. Unlike Star Wars, though, the bad guys in Larsson’s books tend to be one-note evil (even Vader was cool to Luke in the end). I’m talking super nasty, the most depraved bastards you could possibly imagine with no recognizable human traits. Then again, that makes it much more fun and satisfying when they have to face Salander’s wrath. This girl doesn’t just play with it; she’s on fire.

Nerd verdict: Raging hot Fire

Want a copy of this book plus some dragon tattoos? Enter my giveaway here.

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Shelley P
    July 28, 2009 at 3:07 am

    “Swallowed Fire” ~ good one!

    I’m still waiting for Tattoo to come off the Seven Day Express list at the library so I can try to read it again. That being the case, it could be a while before I get to … Played with Fire but it’s going onto The List! Thanks as always, PCN. I hope you’re catching up on some well earned food now.

  • Reply
    Reader#9
    July 28, 2009 at 8:22 am

    I have been eyeing it on the bookshelf, but I was waiting for your review before I purchased. And for the price to come down a bit. I loved the first one so much that I didn’t want to be disappointed if the this one didn’t measure up. I have read other reviews on it, but I don’t trust anyone except you these days.

    One review gave the whole plot away, but still left me wondering if they liked it or not.

    BTW: Loved the “swallowed Fire” phrase you use here.

  • Reply
    Poncho
    July 28, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    OK. I haven’t read Tatoo but it’s now written on my list, as well as …Fire.

    By the way, I read two chapters of Katherine Neville’s The Fire, and had to return to reading The Eight because I couldn’t remember almost anything! But the thing is that those two chapters were on fire! I’ll let you know my thoughts after I finish.

  • Reply
    Ybnorml
    August 4, 2009 at 9:34 am

    I’m broke this week yet I still managed to squeek off some money at Sam’s club to buy this book because your review made me have to have it. Besides, the kids didn’t really need to have that milk and bread this week. The boys are tall enough already.

    Thanks PCN for a great review. I’ll start reading it tonight!

    • Reply
      popculturenerd
      August 4, 2009 at 10:59 am

      Ybnorml, glad you have your priorities straight. Buying food for your children is SO 1990s.

      Can’t wait to hear what you think of the book! (Before you start, make sure your kids know they’ll have to fend for themselves because you ain’t stopping to cook or clean for them, either.)

  • Reply
    infloox
    August 7, 2009 at 6:10 pm

    totally love Salander’s character! just made a post on my blog about her too: http://infloox.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/little-pippi-longstocking-all-grown-up/

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