Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"The Girl Who Played with Fire" ....not so hot

I'm genuinely upset. I was looking forward to the second book so much because the first one absolutely blew my mind. But all I have to say is The Girl Who Played with Fire doesn't hold a candle to the first one.

First, let's start off with the plot that reads well but wasn't an entertaining read:

Michael Blomkvist, crusading publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficing operation. On the eve of its publication, the two reporters responsible for the article are murdered, and the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to his friend, the troubled genius hacker Lisbeth Salander. Blomkvist, convinced of Salander's innocence, plunges into an investigation. Meanwhile, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous game of cat and mouse, which forces her to face her dark past.

The book starts off great because the reader is thrown into an interesting investigation about Sweden's sex trafficking that is fascinating as well as disturbing.

The reader is also immediately re-connected with Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. Stieg Larsson does a good job catching us up in their lives and creating that essence from the first book -- thus further welcoming the reader into the book.

But almost as soon as the reader gets "into" the book, the plot goes down hill. As the summary says, there is a murder and Lisbeth Salander gets tied into it.

Without spoiling the book, here are four things I think ruined the book:

Unnecessary Characters:
The investigation surrounding the murders could have been thrilling throughout. Larsson is the master of dissecting a problem and delivering it bit by bit with a taste of suspense along the away.

However, in this book, there were way too many lawyers, journalists, detectives and policeman involved. Larsson creates so many characters that I found myself confusing who the cops were and who the thugs were; I honestly suggest writing a list and keeping track as you go along.  

Waste of Space:
The beginning was great. The middle was long and drawn out. The ending was suspenseful and then satisfying.

I think Larsson tried a little too hard to make the investigation as real as possible, but the reality is, there was so much information that I found myself getting bored. I honestly believe there were over 150 pages of material that could have been deleted.

A tip: Zoom through the middle because there are tiny bits of information you'll need to know, but it won't be the best parts of the book.    

Emotional Roller Coaster:
There were honestly moments in the book where I felt nauseous. Like the first one, my mind and body were completely engulfed in the plot. However, there were so many "shock and awe effects" that after almost every chapter I felt emotionally drained.

In each chapter someone's secrets are revealed and pieces of the puzzle are slowly added -- but then the plot completely shifts and it's back to more boring information. By this point, it's less suspenseful and more frustrating: the reader just wants to get on a steady path that leads to a solution.

Too Obvious and Predictable:
The aspect I loved most about the first book is that it was 100% unpredictable. I kept guessing and I kept guessing wrong -- and I loved it.

The element of surprise was completely lacking in this book. My first guess was right. At times I thought I was wrong, but then to my dismay, I was right. Well that's no fun.

And more than that, you don't even get a chance to figure out who the murderers were because there are completely random characters thrown in at the end of the book. Well of course you can't play the game if you don't have all the equipment.

HOWEVER, there are good aspects of this book -- I mean, I did finish it.

Larsson brought a lot of good action into this book. There was boxing, there was fighting and there was ...well you'll have to read the rest. But these parts were great. The description was so much that I felt like I was at the scene watching it. It was amazing and I can't wait to see how the movie will choreograph it.

The reader finally finds out what happened to Lisbeth that made her so defensive, angry and aggressive. Her character is finally explained and the reader respects her even more.

All in all, the book was a struggle to read but a must to read. Regardless of whether it was five stars or not, you need to read it to get filled in on all the details and learn even more about your favorite characters. So, I give this book 2.5 stars.

Now, I know I was a bit harsh, but it's coming from a good place. I was rooting for this series and now -- although I'm not as excited -- I am still looking forward to reading the third and final installment of the series: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.


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