September 24, 2010

The Girl who Played with Fire - Stieg Larsson

Sex and violence; sex and violence. If I had to sum up this book, that is how I would do it.

Back in the summer when I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I wasn't sure if I would continue with this series. But enough people persuaded me that the other books were better that I decided to pick up the next book in the series. And they were right - The Girl who Played with Fire was much more interesting and engaging than Dragon Tattoo.

The one factor in Dragon Tattoo that I truly enjoyed was the character of Lisbeth Salander, and this book focused primarily on her. It picks up about a year after the end of Dragon Tattoo when Salander cut off all association with Mikael Blomkvist. It is a more conventional mystery than the first book - three people have been murdered and the police, along with Blomkvist and his magazine and a private investigation firm, have to solve the murders. Salander is the prime suspect right from the get-go.

I don't know what it is about Salander that appeals to me. She can be unpredictable, violent, anti-social, and stubborn. But she has a strong sense of justice that appeals to me; and she is completely self-reliant, not depending on any other person. And she is stronger than any person I have ever met in real life. This is summed up near the end of the book:

"Over the years she had been mixed up in fights, subjected to abuse, been the object of both official and private injustces. She had taken many more punches to both body and soul than anyone should ever have to endure. But she had been able to rebel every time."

In this book, the reader gets to learn about her history, and what happened to make her the way that she is. (I'm not going to reveal it here - you'll have to read the book to find out!)

I can't always turn my physiotherapist brain off when reading. I found fault with the injury in The Solitude of Prime Numbers, and there is an anatomy fault towards the end of this book. I challenge anyone with any knowledge of neuroanatomy to figure out where the bullet is lodged based on this description: "The third bullet caught her about an inch below the top of her left ear. It penetrated her skull and caused a spiderweb of radial cracks in her cranium. The lead came to rest in the grey matter about two inches beneath the cerebral cortex, by the cerebrum." Hmmm.... last time I checked, the cerebral cortex is grey matter, so if it were lodged beneath the cerebral cortex, it would be lodged in white matter; and the cerebrum refers to the main part of the brain so if it in the cerebrum, it can't be near the cerebrum. OK, I guess that authors can't be perfect!

This book ends with a cliff-hanger, so there is no question that I will eventually read the final book in this trilogy. I can't see myself buying the hardcover, so I will either wait for the paperback or track it down from the library.


B.Kienapple said...

I'm currently embroiled in the third book. If you liked the 2nd more than the 1st, you'll really like the 3rd. Fast moving, lots of spy/police investigation elements. And of course the trilogy's plot points come together.

Kate said...

B. Kienapple - Oh, I'm glad to hear! I'll definitely reserve a library copy of the 3rd book in that case.