Friday, September 24, 2010

Review - The Girl who Played with Fire, by Stieg Larsson

"Fire" starts approximately a little over a year after "Dragon" ended. Salander has broken all contact with Mikael and is travelling the world with her new-found riches - basically avoiding Stockholm and anywhere Mikael might be.  After experiencing a hurricane in the Caribbean and saving a woman from her abusive husband she decides to go home, where she does a lot of shopping - new clothes, new apartment, new furniture, etc.  Somewhere along the way she seems to realize that she has no one in her life, and tries to make amends with a few of her friends and re-connect, in her own awkward way, but still avoiding Mikael.

Meanwhile, Mikael and the Millennium magazine are working on a huge story about human trafficking and the sex trade.  When the story intersects with Salander's life in a major way she becomes the prime suspect in a major murder investigation, and even though Mikael knows that she is innocent, he can't prove it without her help, and she's not the least bit interested in helping, or explaining her side of the story to the police.

Once again the story starts out extremely slow, crawling along, full of events and scenes that to me didn't seem to advance the story in any way, for about the first half of the book.  Then suddenly, everything happens at once...

The ending is remarkable, almost unbelievable, and amazingly awesome all at the same time.  You can't believe what you're reading but you also can't stop, and suddenly you turn the page and  - the end?  WTF?  But the story isn't done yet!  Is everyone OK?!  OMG - what happens next?!  Make sure you have book 3 close by so you can immediately start reading it, as it picks up about 5 minutes after this one ends.

"Fire" is more concise thematically, I think, and more focused.  The main issue here is the sex trade, and how women - girls, really - are treated in the industry.  But the theme also transfers into Salander's life, as her mother was also horribly mistreated and abused by a viciously evil man - an event that sent Salander spiraling into her aggressively anti-social behavior, and triggered a massive government cover-up.  The parallel of the government actively hiding the abuse in Salander's case, and their willful ignorance of the abusive sex trade in general was highlighted well.  Laws are worthless if the authorities don't enforce them, or if they look the other way when their own members break them.

I gave "Dragon" 4 stars, but I'm only giving "Fire" 3 stars, not because it's bad in any way - I quite enjoyed the story myself - but only because it started so slowly.

Have you read this series?  What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment!

1 comment:

  1. This one is on my reading list .. Thanks for the review and for the warning about the slow start, as I might be tempted to set it aside otherwise!

    Julie @ Knitting and Sundries