A book review blog. Updated sporadically as my reading record of late has been abysmal.
All reviews are written by me and are my personal views only. Comments welcome.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Review: THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE : a real curate's egg.
Title: The Girl Who Played with Fire Author: Stieg Larsson Publisher: Quercus This edition published: 2009 ISBN: 9781847245564 569 pages
Lisbeth’s friend, Blomqvist is working on a major story for his magazine Millennium. They are about to blow wide open the details of human trafficking for prostitution in Sweden. They are going to name names. The couple working on to story are gunned down in their apartment and Salander’s prints are on the gun left behind. A country-wide hunt for the girl with the violent past ensues; most think she’s guilty but when the investigating officer begins to question the people in Salander’s life, he gets a very different picture of the woman described in official records.
I’ve heard the expression “curates egg” and know what it means but I’ve often wondered where that expression came from. I found a nice explanation of its origin on the Phrase Finder website.
THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE fits that definition exactly. Good in parts but annoying and exasperating in others. The book begins with a recap of THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO and a very detailed account on the minutiae of the life of Lisbeth Salander. In fact these elements are so detailed that its past page 150 before the meat of the story even begins. I nearly gave up on the book, but a number of people urged me to keep going because it was worth it. I did persevere and I’m glad I did. But there were other things in the book that I struggled with: overlong-fight scenes with a minor character that was almost invincible which might have worked in an action movie but seemed silly and out of place in the book and a scene with Salander in danger towards the end that had me rolling my eyes. My reaction to the book had me asking questions about the accolades the book has received. Does it truly merit this or is there the “Marilyn Monroe” effect happening? Would the books have been as universally acclaimed if the author hadn’t died tragically young before the books were published? How much editing was done on THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE? Was there a sense of “we mustn’t’ touch this work”? Would the publishers have allowed nearly 150 pages of back story and Salander’s daily life to stand as it does if Larsson had lived? Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, but I enjoyed it with reservations which not many seem to have expressed. Am I alone? I’d love to hear your thoughts.