The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

The second book of Stieg Larsson‘s Millennium trilogy is so much better than the first one! It’s faster paced, with many action sequences, and secondary characters play an active role in the story instead of being only an endless list of names with little if no participation at all. (In “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”  the key to resolving the story involves motstly 3 constantly active characters: Blomkvist, Salander and Vanger and his lawyer. Bjurman is important as an articulation factor for the second book, but his importance in the development and conclusion of the first book is nearly zero; and Martin Vanger only reveals himself near the end of the book.)

I have seen the “The Girl Who Played with Fire” film beforehand, and I tried my best to ignore the fact that I already knew how the story would develop and how it would end. I can tell that if I hadn’t seen the film I’d have loved the book as well. Every character’s storyline slowly merges perfectlly to the end and, unlike “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo”, this book ends up in a major cliffhanger and leaves many other minor stories unresolved.

Although the book is exceptionally well written and better than the first one, I think it could be some 200 pages shorter. All the pages about Salander’s musings while travelling the world, her getting silicone prosthesis and saving a woman from her abusive husband while have a romance with a teenager in Grenada seem to me like one of those filler episodes in a TV show with high ratings. I understand that’s partly Larsson’s way to show us how Lisbeth is getting more adult, mature. But that could perfectly have been achieved in no more than 10 pages. Also, there are way too many descriptive fight scenes. It’s descriptive kicks and punches that last 3 to 4 pages. Extremely boring and of no difference to the story. Even though I aprecciate the extra action in this book, it’s really not that kind of action.

I’ve started with “The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest” but I’m only on page 13. (I’m still reading “The Disappearing Spoon” simultaneously)

Edited to add this: But how could I forget about it! If you thought there was too much product placement on book one, wait until you read this one. There is an obnoxious ammount of mentions of specific brands, all the time. It’s never like “she called Blomkvist”, It’s “she called Blomkvist with her Nokia phone while sitting on her IKEA couch. She left to see him in her burgundy Volvo instead of her Kawasaki” etc etc etc. I don’t know about other people, but I get enough of ads on TV and Internet. I’d like books to be ad free.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

… or “Män som hatar kvinnor” (original Swedish title) or “Os Homens que Não Amavam as Mulheres” (in Portuguese).

Finally, after watching the three original Swedish films, I’m getting better acquainted with Lisbeth Salander again by reading the Millenium trilogy. I’m currently in the middle of the second book, The Girl Who Played With Fire. I rated The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo 4 out of 5 stars on Goodreads. It could be a few pages shorter and give us less detail about the Vanger family, since many facts were not relevant – neither to characterize the people nor to the crime mistery. Also, I’m no puritan, but at some point during the book it’s already clear enough to the reader that Blomkvist is a ladies man, so there’s no need to waste pages describing his love affairs. But overall the most negative aspect of this book (and the trilogy, so far) is the endless ammount of product placement. At one point it got so annoying that I almost dropped the book. “She took her PowerBook/ his brand new IKEA couch brand x, chairs brand y, cars brand z, etc” – that is REALLY annoying, and I’m no writer, but as an advice to any aspiring writer I’d say don’t do product placement in your book. It may even be a bestseller, but it will piss the hell out of your readers. Despite all that it’s an awesome book, highly recommended.

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