Thursday, May 26, 2011

Book #34

The Girl Who Played With Fire, by Stieg Larsson. Unabridged audio.

Book two of the wildly popular Millennium trilogy, this novel picks up months after the events of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Salander has disappeared, and Bloomqvist doesn't know why. When she does reappear in Stockholm, three people are murdered in quick succession and Salander is the prime suspect.

As in the first novel, the plot involves the exploitation of women, in this case human trafficking and prostitution. There are rough moments, as the subject matter implies, but the plot moves quickly and never dwells too long on the uncomfortable moments. The spinning our of the plot against Salander is well done, and how the novel wraps up the events is compelling and satisfying.

The characters of both Salander and Bloomqvist are developed well, and we get more insights and backstory into Salander than we had in the first book. The time-jumping aspects of the narrative threw me off at first, but once I saw what Larsson was doing, I grew more comfortable with it. I am not a fan of Salander seemingly turning into a action movie super-heroine -- the outlandishness of her actions in the last few chapters seemed odd for a book that tries so hard to be grounded in the grittiness of the real world.

It is hard to criticize word choice and terminology in translated works, because it is hard to know whether the issues are in the original text or in the translation. But that is the area where the book is the weakest, and it's frustrating to not know where to place the responsibility.

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