Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Girl Who Played with Fire by Steig Larsson

(Review #44)

It's interesting how mentally sitting on a book for a while can make a difference in your opinion of it. A while ago, I reviewed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the first entry in Steig Larsson's Millenium Trilogy, and gave it pretty positive treatment. Months later, I've had a chance to think beyond the initial thrill that comes with finishing a book and really think about it. It wasn't a grand addition to Western literature; it wasn't even a masterpiece of airport mystery rags. The story was engaging enough, but it was so strangled by product placement and ridiculously irrelevant details that it's all I can do to remember the plot. But I remember how many Billy Pan Pizzas Salander ate, oh yes, I do.

The Girl Who Played with Fire suffers from similiar issues. I could probably draw up a catelogue of items from Ikea that Salander purchased for her 25 million kronor apartment or the jacket/sweater combination Blomkvist wore on any given day, but the little plot details have been lost. The plot itself can be gripping at times, but it suffers from the kind of coincidences (mostly centering around Salander) that make it incredibly unbelievable. I don't want to take away the "seriously?" factor for new readers, so I won't spoil them here. To give the book its due, I was reading furiously through the last few pages, which is where things climax to a nasty end.

Since I'm a pathological completist, I will be reading the final book in the trilogy. There are a number of plot points that still need to be tied up, so perhaps I might be able to come away with a satisfactory feeling of accomplishment. I'm not going to warn people away from reading this because there are some parts that are suspenseful enough to raise the heartrate. I will, however, caution you that just because all three books spent a bazillion weeks on the bestseller lists doesn't mean that they are any better quality-wise than the box of damp medical mysteries I picked up from the side of the road the other day.

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