Flickan som lekte med elden; The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

Concerned you may be old before your time? I am a great lover of Lakelands, C and H Fabrics, creams teas (without the tea part), a brisk walk on a warm (but not scorching) summer’s day through a quaint, historically fascinating village. Oh and I am also 25; fellow elderly youth, let us start a club. Other than the oldies who suspiciously eye you up for invading their aged space, C & H Fabrics is good visit, especially for a cake or vintage looking accessory. I moan enough to be an honorary elderly, why not occasionally join them in their natural environment.This is not a sponsored post

Pondering being old before your time; I have been contemplating if this could be the reason I am finding more and more things utterly ridiculous. Place a character in a fantasy, dystopian or science fiction environment and I am all for weirdly far-fetched courses of events; removing them from my own normality means I am happy for an author to substitute their own. However, place your elaborate plot into my world and my immediate reaction will be frustration, boredom, or should you be particularly unlucky, both. Do not test my limits of rationality authors, I will only get annoyed. Do not make me shake my walking stick at you; some things just need to make sense.

Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.

But he has no idea just how explosive the story will be until, on the eve of publication, the two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander—the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and who now becomes the focus and fierce heart of The Girl Who Played with Fire.

As Blomkvist, alone in his belief in Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the slayings, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.Synopsis from Goodreads.

Unlike The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which began painfully slowly before gaining pace, The Girl who Played with Fire was not such a structured enjoyment. Perhaps because I have issues with middle instalments of trilogies (many have disappointed me), often I found myself beginning to enjoy the book only to be set back by intermittent periods of boredom, becoming tired of the plot lines I was given. This is by no means a bad book, I did enjoy reading it, I was only disappointed by its inconsistency.

Larsson does not disconcert with the effort he puts into his subject matter, which was once again interesting and thought out. You could not criticise Larsson for lacking dedication to the serious matters he depicts, his work feels akin to a true crime novel with the level of detail he devotes. He also allocates enough attention to his key characters to leave them once again glued in my mind, contemplating their intricacies. However, unlike The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo Larsson over-packed his antagonists.

My main gripe came in the form of Zala, our villain. While I understood why Zala being related to Salander thus explained the problems she experienced after ‘All the Evil’, the nature of its culmination felt almost unnecessary, and far-fetched. I would have preferred Salander to have been let down by the system without the vicious leader of a trafficking gang being pivotal. I am unsure as to why this has suddenly bothered me, as the events of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo do not occur daily; but The Girl who Played with Fire seemed to go beyond my limits of acceptability. Individually, henchman Niedermann, the trafficking, Svensson and Johansson murders and Salander’s questionable guilt/morality work perfectly. Combining them was tricky, and up until near the end of the book were marginally successful, yet the ending itself fell flat, for me anyway. When characters get too clever, out-doing their character flaws, there is real ‘Mary-Sue’ risk; Salander crossed this line marginally, Zala flung himself over it. Without spoiling the ending, there are certain near death experiences depicted which are really just death experiences.

I left this novel satisfied yet frustrated; Salander is one of my favourite characters, not only in this series but fiction itself. She is a moral conundrum, a man hater, misunderstood wonder and a fantastic feminist aspect to the novel. Her newly found death-surviving abilities have dampened this admiration; it has morphed her from accessible to unbelievable. Salander hates men who hate women from experience, however, she could have easily hated women were her parental roles reversed. While Larsson is wonderfully pro-women, situations seem to stem from or lead back to men. Even Berger, a wonderfully strong woman, practically runs her life around Blomkvist; she always has to trust him, they cannot seem to escape each other. I would have enjoyed some equality because that is how it should be, as a given, not something to be account for or constantly explained.

I have given a little more space to my gripes in this post than aspects I enjoyed; this is a marvellous book otherwise I would not want to discuss it in this matter. Anything that can get you talking and debating is worth the reading.

One thought on “Flickan som lekte med elden; The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

  1. I’ve still got this sitting on my to-read pile, so aren’t going to read the full review as I don’t want to get spoiled. I really should get around to it D: I have noticed the middle of trilogies can fall flat (Hunger Games being the exception), so I wonder where that’ll leave the third?


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