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Showing 1-10 of 773 reviews(4 star). Show all reviews
VINE VOICEon January 25, 2009
In THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE, the second volume in the late Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, publisher Mikael Blomkvist and the police are conducting parallel investigations into three horrifying murders -- and their initial evidence points straight at young computer genius and social misfit Lisbeth Salander. Kalle Bastard Blomkvist (as Salander has begun referring to him) hasn't seen Salander in nearly two years, except for one night when he happened to witness a huge man attempting to kidnap her and both she and the attacker eluded him. He's bewildered about why she cut him off cold, but had accepted her decision -- until now. He doesn't believe Salander killed these victims. Well, at least not two of them. He has to contact her, find out how she's become embroiled in this, and help her. Salander, as usual, has her own ideas about who she'll see and when....

In THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, Larsson partnered Blomkvist and Salander as they unraveled a twisted tale of corporate greed, Fascist connections, and perverse sex and violence. FIRE highlights another subject on which Larsson wanted to shine light, namely the underbelly of the sex trade, a swill of human misery being forcibly imposed for money and simple loathing of women. Blomkvist's magazine, Millennium, plans an issue devoted to the subject based on the interviews and reporting of a criminologist and a journalist, and there follows much in-house discussion of the lurid material and how it should be presented to the public. But the three murders turn the magazine and its people on their heads.

Meanwhile, Salander travels, changes her appearance, and matures in the early chapters of the 569-page book that covers four months in total and is told in four parts. Among her pursuits: attempting to proof Fermat's Last Theorem in a way Fermat himself might have done, furnishing her new abode, and keeping tabs on Bjurman (whom, recall, she memorably tattooed in DRAGON). Then, she disappears for quite a spell as the murder investigation gets cranking, and finally, she regains the spotlight as the book rushes headlong into a heart-stopping denouement.

The last book in this series -- tentatively entitled THE GIRL WHO KICKED THE HORNETS' NEST in its English translation -- is not scheduled for release until 2010. However, the entire trilogy has already been published in Swedish (naturally), French, and German. Larsson reportedly had planned a ten-volume series. He had written part of the fourth book and had outlined volumes five, six, and seven. Sadly, due to his early death, only the trilogy is complete and will, according to his father, be published. After reading FIRE, the thought creeps in that perhaps the trilogy will not provide closure, and that the reader could be left dangling, unsatisfied. That would be a crying shame because Salander and Blomkvist -- along with other continuing characters -- do burrow themselves deeply into the reader's (at least this reader's) affections. Fortunately, reviewers who have read, in the other aforementioned languages, the entire story arc, including the final novel, seem generally very satisfied. Some claim that the last book, also the longest, is a grand finale that answers all outstanding questions. A few are less effusive, stating that the last book can't meet the anticipatory heights set by the stunning, unusual first one.

This last criticism can be applied to the second book as well. FIRE does not pack quite the punch of uniqueness that DRAGON did. One can perhaps think of the movie trilogy THE MATRIX, MATRIX RELOADED, and THE MATRIX REVOLUTION as an analogy. The smash introductory film awed with its mind-bending perspective. The second and third passes were very solid, even amazing, partners, but they only reiterated the cutting-edge magic so novel in The MATRIX, building on it, not inventing something mind-blowingly fresh. Familiarity takes a bit of the bloom off the rose, but it certainly doesn't breed contempt in these instances. Larsson's FIRE lags a little during the mid-section in which criminal investigation procedure grinds along and the author belabors certain points, seeming to believe his readers novices at crime mysteries. But overall, FIRE accelerates the enthralling story of Lisbeth and Mikael with panache. One can't help thinking the world they inhabit is too slimy, too vicious, but Larsson was a man with many crusades and causes, and his trilogy vividly paints the harsh pictures of society that he hoped to reform. The Millennium Trilogy encompasses uncompromising social critique; prickling thrills; and curious, bittersweet romance. FIRE drew me like a moth, and I can't wait to get my hands on HORNET. 4.4 stars.
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on April 13, 2009
I found this book to be a solid sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, in fact, I may have liked it ever better than the first.

In this book we learn more about Salander. Skillfully exposed throughout the course of the novel, bits and pieces of her background appear until by the end a full picture has emerged. Some statisfying, some not so satisfying. A couple points easily guessed early on.

She's a fascinating character, and the parts about her were my favorite in the book, (even the parts that were seemingly plot irrelevant and never resolved). She's a smart, strong, flawed underdog, and you can't help rooting for her.

This book tackles a lot of topics. Sex trade, the media, police corruption, authority abuse, on and on. I like it because it keeps it interesting, but sometimes it was all over the board. Especially interesting to me is learning more about Swedish culture throughout the course of the book.

What's best about the book is the pace. It kept me captivated throughout the 569 pages (in my copy), and I couldn't go to bed until I finished. It's a well-done thriller.

Incidentally, I didn't find that you needed to have read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo first, but certainly that would be preferable.

Looking forward to the 3rd, and sad that it will be the last. This is a really interesting series.
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on April 30, 2014
I only gave this four stars as I think that the first 20% of the book can be skipped.SPOILER ALERT. Basically she travels around the world and has some adventures that have nothing whatsoever to do with the rest of the story. If he had dropped this part and started when she arrives back in Sweden I would have given this a higher rating. Once back in Sweden the story takes off and has many twists to keep you turning the pages. The book has very good pacing once back and kept me guessing as to what actually had occured and who had done what to whom. Although this is a still a dark tale of the soul, unlike the first book there is not as much explicit description of sexual deviation as in the first book. The author creates characters that seem real. They may not like each other for some vague reasons or even no reason at all, just like life. On a lighter note , at least in the early oughts in Sweden, it seemed to me as though they must have consumed huge amounts of coffee. It was as though throughout the book everyone is either drinking coffee or making coffee or offering to make coffee .
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on October 26, 2013
This is the second of Larsson's 3 books. Note that while you neeeent have read the previous book, it does enhance the experience, as you've already established a connection to the characters & are instantly interested in the outcome here. The book is an exceptional thriller/crime drama that highlights cyber-crime, espionage, sex trafficking, investigative journalism & the states abuse of power. It is a long & detailed read, which is a Larsson hallmark as the meticulous nature of his writing is what makes the characters so deep. However, don't expect a quick "beach or airplane read". Definitely worth the time & oh, did I mention the cliffhanging ending????
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on December 6, 2015
This is book #2 in the series by Stieg Larsson. In this book we learn more about the history of Lizbeth Salander, the female protagonist in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. We get a much better understanding of Lizbeth's psyche, and how and why her violent childhood affected her in adulthood. It would be an understatement to say she was not dealt a good hand, nor given a fair shake in life. However, she is nothing if not a survivor.

The main plot in book #2 revolves around human sex trafficking. Three people are murdered and Lizbeth is the prime suspect. Two of the murder victims were "good guys", and one was most certainly not. If the reader can stomach the graphic violence in parts of the book, it is an interesting and enjoyable read. I guess what makes these books so satisfying is that the bad guys eventually get what's coming to them.

I would venture a guess that anyone who gets through books #1 & 2 will want to move on to #3. At least I do. I give this book 4 stars.
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on April 22, 2013
I finally got around to reading this book. I sort of fell into the series - I saw the movie "the girl with the dragon tattoo" and decided to buy this second book, "The Girl Who Played with Fire". I do recommend reading the first book or watching the movie prior to reading this second book as there are scenes in it that will make better sense to you.

Anyway, similar to the first (although I saw the movie and did not read the book) this book held my attention with many action packed adventures.

There are several points when the book seems a bit overly descriptive and long, I found myself skipping over paragraphs of extra detail.
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on June 14, 2015
A lot has been said about Stig Larsson's writing and I was happy to read this second book in the series. I do not think he is easy to read in this translation and it is difficult to keep track of the characters. Larsson fleshes them out well but his story drags on in the middle. Lizbeth is cunning and dangerous as she was in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The climax and ending are exciting and do tie up the story very well.

One thing that bugs me is the author's lack of information about guns. Larsson has researched his streets and medical information but he missed on the Colt .45. There is no Colt .45 magnum. The Colt comes in .45 Long Colt which is comparable to a .44 Magnum but not named so and falls short of the power. I know, this is knit picking but it bugs me anyway.
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on April 4, 2011
This book certainly had it's share of jaw-dropping moments (one about 200 pages in, and another 200 pages after that, of which I will not spoil). The author did a great job in not trying to recreate the first book, but to create a completely different path for his characters. The first book was trying to unravel a 30 year old mystery, and this one deals very much in the "here and now." The characters have picked up and advanced from the events of the first book, and not a bland recreation of themselves from the previous novel. Furthermore, in this one, there are subtle setups to the 3rd book.

My only detractors were that at times I feel as though the author was trying to pad the page count. Lisbeth's encounter with a couple while on vacation didn't really do anything for the novel, per se. It really only led to reminding us that she hates men who hates women. This exposition could have been done in different ways. With this changed, the first real reveal of the book wouldn't have happened 200 pages in, but maybe 150 pages in. Or sooner! Secondly, as the book unfolds, there seems to be a lot of summaries. Blomkvist reading through his notes, or Salander remembering events, recreating notes found in the laptops, etc. To what purpose, to remind the readers of what they are currently reading? It seemed as tedious and a page-filler.

Other than that, the book does have a faster pace than the first book, the progression of characters is strong and believable, and we get more of an insight into the life of Lisbeth Salander along the way - her background, why she is who she is, her motivations etc. All told, very well done and a strong effort.
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on July 2, 2013
I really liked the book - it's been a while since I read the first one, but it was necessary to remember the first one otherwise you have no idea of what's going on. I'm going to start the third one which is a direct continuation of this book. If you think of the trio as one book then it all is great. This one does not stand alone which is why I gave it only 4 stars. But I really, really enjoyed it.
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on May 25, 2012
3.5 stars. As with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, this book takes quite a while to get going. More than 200 pages in, I was waiting for the action to start, and I got a little irritated with the tedium of the contents of Lisbeth Salander's grocery bags and the furnishings of her new apartment. The story picks up where TGWTDT left off, and once it got going, it was decent. I like Blomkvist and Salander's characters, even if Salander is a little unbelievable at times with regard to her self-preservation capabilities. The pace is not quick, and the mathematician stuff slowed it further (and bored me), but I enjoyed it overall. I'm undecided as to whether I'll read the third in the trilogy.
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