Tuesday, January 8, 2013

ReView of THE GIRL WHO PLAYED WITH FIRE by Stieg Larsson

Mystery/Thriller - 503 pgs
Alfred Knopf (first published 2006)

This is the second book in the Stieg Larsson trilogy, The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo series.  The first book, The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo was the beginning of Lizbeth Salander's story as a seriously intelligent and crafty computer hacker.  So much so that it gives her a job which further leads her into an investigation that unravels the rest of her story.  While the first book is the account of how it all begins and how all the parts in the large picture tie together, the second book delves into Lizbeth Salander's personal history with the sadistic individuals who have not once but multiple times maimed her, psychologically and intellectually.  Nothing Lizbeth Salander can't handle, though.

This second book in the trilogy focuses on the question, Who is Lizbeth Salander? It's the pertinent theme that dominates the novel.  Those surrounding Salander have a very specific and narrow opinion and perspective of who Salander is but no one really knows Lizbeth Salander.  They all speculate and they all find out how wrong they were.  The outsider's perspective is that Salander is all the following: 'pathologically unwell,' 'unreliable,' socially introverted,' 'regarded as dangerous to herself and others,' ' very lonely and odd person.'  Her morality is questioned and is often times judged because it doesn't coincide with that of the justice system.

On the other hand, Salander's morality is well above others and well more moral and ethical than the standards of the justice system.  To use violence she would have to be exceedingly threatened or provoked.  She is an incredible researcher.  And she often holds herself to her own values and beliefs.  I believe that Salander is a strong willed individual who knows how to take care of herself and knows what's best for her, contrary to the beliefs of the other characters about her.

The plot in this second books is just the back-drop. What is of real significance is getting to know who Lizbeth Salander is.  If you are curious to know who she is and why has become to be who she is in the way she's portrayed throughout the book, read this second book, otherwise just skip right over to the third.  If you're interested in knowing the details of the plot more so than her persona and character, skip right to the third book.

So I'll say it again.  This second book in the series covers the whole spectrum of who Salander is.  You will know who Salander is from multiple perspectives, and you in turn will have the chance to decide who Salander is.  I think that Larsson really doesn't disappoint, yet again.

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