The Girl Who Played With Fire (Millennium #2..)

bookshelves: to-read-in-2013

Read from March 14 to April 24, 2013, read count: 1
On the rear cover of Vintage Crime’s 2009 publication of The Girl Who Played With Fire, the reader gains a glimpse of Stieg Larsson. Cradling an almost gaunt face with his left hand, his expression seemingly radiates the time and energy put into the writing of what would become his lasting legacy, the Millennium trilogy. He clearly inserted his heart and soul into them. Additionally, he appears hopeful that his work would be well-received.Indeed, it has. As of December 2011, the series–collectively– had sold 65 million copies, resulting in three #1 bestsellers. Even today, that number is continually on the rise. Interestingly enough, this has all taken place posthumously.

Resuming approximately one year after the life-altering events of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, we’re treated with a lengthy section revolving around our favorite sleuth, Lisbeth Salander. A significantly different Salander, spending time abroad, as though distance will somehow help rectify the past.
This proves to be a relatively calm time in her life, time often spent patronizing a local pub and, to an extent, socializing with the primary bartender. However minimal said exchanges were, they marked an altogether different side of our heroine. It’s a nice change.
It is here that Larsson expertly discloses much about her, and how she thinks, reacts, perceives. Perhaps most telling is her fascination with puzzles. We, in fact, learn that she’s been fascinated with them (and all things mathematical,) since a very young age. The mastering of the Rubik’s cube was most definitely a defining moment of her life. More so, it was probably one of her first of many successes.

And as incredibly relevant and deeply profound as this was, I soon realized that Larsson actually hinted at Salander’s unique thought process, through Blomkvist’s perspective, in the previous installment:

“…A talent for seeing patterns and understanding abstract reasoning where other people only perceive white noise…”

By doing this, he takes the novel (and the series as a whole,) many steps forward. It is very much Salander’s book, or story, if you will. The excessive presence of our sassy, technological prodigy is clearly evident, for she’s seen here much more than in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, possibly even more than all three books combined.
A somewhat subtle example of this is the various sections (or parts,) showcasing brief, albeit interesting insights pertaining to math, equations, and the like:

“Those pointless equations, to which no solution exists, are called absurdities.”

(a+b) (a-b) = a2-b2 +1

Hence, I’ve digressed..
Beneath the consistent character development of both Mikeal and Lisbeth is, of course, the plot itself.
When a friend of Blomkvist’s informs him that he (and long-time girlfriend Mia Johanson,) are in the process of exposing an extensive sex-trafficking operation, Blomkvist is drawn in, agreeing to shed some light on this growing problem.
On the eve of its publication, the couple are murdered. Making matters worse, Salander’s prints are found on the murder weapon. Is she guilty, innocent, or something in the middle?

In the process, extenuation circumstances force her to face a dark, troubled past. It’s done in such an indescribable way that while it seems that Larsson is calling all the shots, never once did it feel contrived.

Later on, however, there’s one particular revelation which feels very much contrived, IMO, centered around Ron “the blond giant” Niedermann. I didn’t buy this at all. I still don’t, actually. I’m just not feeling it..

“Zala’s” HUGE announcement really floored me, though. To the point that I literally called out in utter shock,” “Whhhaaatttt!?!”
If that isn’t a jaw-dropping moment, I don’t know what is.

Sadly towards the end, the story became slightly predictable. For example, I’d been hearing about how the last few pages would compel me to immediately jump into the next book. And I would have, if not for the fact that I kind of saw it coming (those of you who’ve read it know EXACTLY what I’m talking about.) On a related note, it seemed pretty convenient that Blomkvist managed to locate her, and arrive just in time..

Oh, one last question: what the heck happened with those involved in the prologue?? Where did they go, who were they, did she ever get away?? I realize that it had something to do with the sex-trafficking, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. If it isn’t clear, then is it actually serving a purpose??

Overall, a fantastic, fascinating thrill-ride from start to finish. My favorite of the three, thus far!


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