Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Book Review: "The Girl Who Played With Fire" by Steig Larsson

I read most of this book on my recent flights to visit my mother. I finished it the first night I was there. I visited every store I passed that sold books looking for a paperback version of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest to read on my trip home. I won't pay for a hardback, but I will buy the paperback the minute I find a copy.

While there were still enormous problems with the writing (there were several continuity issues and the POV hopped around way too much. I just hate that!), I enjoyed this one more than the first one because the focus was clearly on Lisbeth and not on less interesting characters like the Vangers (screwed up and perverse as they are).

Ordinarily I despise stories where the main character is a crazed killer. Lisbeth Salander is the kind of crazed killer whose actions are totally justified because the bad guys in this series are such evil bastards, as they say in Texas, "they needed killing." Once again Lisbeth amazes and fascinates with her resourcefulness, courage, her rage (born of pain) and her utter brutality. I find it interesting that Lisbeth is a character whose behavior is totally consistent with her beliefs. She has her own sense of morality, and she never wavers from it -- twisted though her soul may be from the torture that she has suffered in her life. She may be a frightening example of the dangers of moral certainty.

This is not bedtime reading. For one thing, it would give you nightmares. For another, the plot races along with no possible stopping places. This is a stay-up-all-night-reading-under-the-covers book. The bad guys are heinous monsters. The good guys aren't much better, except for Blomqvist (and I'm not so sure about him). Is Lisbeth good or bad? She is certainly sympathetic, which is as good as it gets in Larsson's storyworld.

Obviously, the reader knows more about Lisbeth at the end than at the beginning, but there are still questions to be answered in the third book. Considering the wild ride I've enjoyed in the first two books, I'm trying brace myself for the final leg of this journey. I can't wait to get my hands on The Girl who Kicked a Hornets Nest!

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