Book Review – THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE by Stieg Larsson

Gripping. The second instalment of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium Trilogy, The Girl Who Played With Fire, is not just a worthy successor to the first, it is even better!

girl who played with fire

Why is it better? This novel is where the reader is properly introduced to the feisty heroine Lisbeth Salander. In The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Larsson gave readers enough to barrack for Salander on instinct, but she remained somewhat of an enigma, kept at arm’s length so to speak.

As in the first novel, the story is told from numerous characters perspectives, however the narrator in the spotlight this time is Salander rather than investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist. Larsson’s male protagonist Blomkvist plays the supporting role to Salander in this outing, investigating Salander’s past and the events that changed the course of her life and shaped her values. Through this exploration of the past and Salander’s thoughts through narration we truly learn what makes Salander tick and what her motives are. Salander’s interaction with Palmgren, stroke victim and Salander advocate, adds real and memorable depth to the story also.

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I am in awe of Stieg Larsson’s ability as an author of fiction – I think he was truly gifted.

The complexity of his plot, sub-plots and whatever one calls ‘the plots below sub-plots’ stands apart from other novels I have read, save perhaps David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas (although Mitchell’s are more philosophical or cryptic connections while Larsson’s are steeped in the novel’s fact pool and world he has created). How did he keep track of all these characters and interdependencies? I can only imagine a wall with a character map that looked like a bowl of spaghetti.

The only constructive observation I can really make about The Girl Who Played With Fire is that in a few places the prose did not seem quite as slick as its predecessor. This by no means detracted from the very gritty story though. It could simply have been a symptom of the translation or perhaps slightly less editing by the author before his death prior to even the first novel in the trilogy being published.

I cannot wait to read the final novel in this Millenium Trilogy, but I also know that as soon as I turn that final page I will be disappointed that there will be no more opportunities to read about these wonderful characters Salander and Blomkvist.

BOOK RATING: The Story 5 / 5 ; The Writing 5 / 5

the girl who played with fire
Available from:
Book Depository | Booktopia(Aus) | Kobobooks | B&N | Amazon

This book counts towards my participation in the Chunkster Reading Challenge (608 pages) and the Finish That Series Challenge.

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  1. Hopping by from the Book Blogger Hop.

    I just came back from a quick trip to the UK with all three volumes, goodness knows when I will get to read them as Mt TBR is huge, but at least I have them now!

  2. I'm dying to read this book! Lisbeth was my favourite part of the first and I've heard such great things about this one. Glad you enjoyed it :)

  3. Nice review. I enjoyed the second more than the first, too. In the middle of the third one now. Would rather stay home and read today than go to work! Some have wondered if another writer will be hired to write the remaining 7 books in the series since Larsson left outlines for each. That could potentially be a nightmare, but if they'd find someone who could keep the spirit of the characters alive I'd love to find out where things end up for Salander.