Friday, February 12, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire - Stieg Larsson (audio)


It has been a few days since I finished this glorious book on audio, and I'm dragging my feet to write a review. Why? I have lots to say about it. I went on small tangents talking about it over the last couple of weeks in various posts and e-mails. I guess I am afraid I won't do it justice. I don't have those kinds of skillz, I don't think.

I loved this book's predecessor, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo". As soon as I finished it, I rushed to the library's website and ordered this audio, and was on the wait list for about three months. When I finally received it, I loaded it on iTunes as fast as a body can, and off I went, giddy and excited as a girl on her wedding day.

We are reunited with our endearing yet horn-dogish Mikael Blomkvist, who is enjoying the fruits of his successes earned in the first book. However, he is dispirited to find that Lisbeth Salander wants nothing to do with him. Meanwhile, an investigative journalist has approached Mikael and Millennium Publishing with idea for an expose on sex trafficking that will once again put Millennium in the spotlight.

We also catch up with Lisbeth and find her wandering aimlessly around the globe, and trying to decide what to do with her life. Despite being independently wealthy, she feels lost and alone.

Then Lisbeth's past, when "all the evil" happened, catches up with her. Lisbeth and Mikael's worlds converge again, and a tangled web of murder, political corruption and decades-old grievances surface and are unleashed.

I have said this before, and I will say it again. Lisbeth Salander is one of the most enigmatic, sympathetic and charismatic characters developed in modern literature. You can't put your finger on her...she is a social outcast, a brilliant computer hacker and mathematician, violent when cornered, and moralistic to a fault. I'm pretty sure if I met her, I wouldn't like her. But on the page (or in my ear, as it were) I want to revere her and protect her at the same time. We get to spend alot more time learning about Lisbeth in this book, with not one dull moment. We begin to understand what made her into the girl she is today, every bit of it horrifying.

As with the first book, Larsson takes his time setting up the story. He slowly reveals the desolation of Lisbeth's new life, the ways in which she is currently protecting herself from those who want to exploit her or hurt her, the state of Millennium's business, the sex trafficking trade, and even Mikael's sex life. Then the cogs begin to turn, and a multi-dimensional mystery unfurls itself. The characters, even the most insignificant, are interesting and drawn with depth. I was invested in the story right up to my armpits. Invested to the point, when Larsson pulls a fast one on us near the end of the book, I nearly had a coronary. (Seriously, I was in the middle of a walk when I got to this point, and I had to sit down.) In the land of dime-a-dozen crime thrillers, this one stands out like a beacon of light.

Now let me just wax lovingly for a minute about Simon Vance, the narrator. Yes, he is my ear candy (BTW, he also narrated The Little Stranger as well), the embodiment of listening pleasure. His voice, his accents, the lilt in his words just makes me purr. I could walk to California and back if I had him in my ear. If you have a chance to listen to his work, you shouldn't pass it up. He brings his stories to life.

So now, here I sit, waiting for the release of the third and final book in the series, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest". It is released in the US in May, and most likely it will take me another three months to wait my way through the hold list at the library for the audio. I trust that every agonizing day of waiting will be worth it.

5 out of 5 stars



27 comments:

Melody said...

I could sense your thrill & excitement on this series with this review, Sandy! I have yet to read them yet so I need to remedy that, soon!!

Hope you've a great weekend ahead!

Alice Teh said...

All right. I need to read this soon. I bought the book when it was published and there are so many good reviews on it. I'm glad you love it and that's a great incentive for me to get started quickly. :D

Molly said...

WOW --- could you be any more convincing?! I don't think so.

As I said earlier this month, I think I am going to try to read all the books in the series at one time - after his third book is released later this year.

I will have to remember the narrator. I think that is the key for me in staying focused and understanding audio books.

caite said...

I liked this book a great deal and I agree Lisbeth is a wonderful character. Now personally, I liked the first book a bit more..ok, I just totally loved the first book..but this was a very,very gook book.

I actually have the third book already. I ordered it from a bookseller in England, but have not read it yet. Is that nuts or what...lol

Serena said...

I will be the last person to read these books, even though I bought the hard covers and they sit on the shelf. I am going to change that soon, though.

great review.

Julie P. said...

Fantastic review -- I definitely think you did it justice! I can't wait to read this book. I adored the first one in the series.

farmlanebooks said...

I'm surprised you're not rushing out to order a copy of the third book from the UK! I think I'll try listening to this book - hopefully I'll enjoy it more that way. It is great to see your enthusiasm for these books!

Susan said...

This sounds fascinatingly clever, Sandy. I haven't read either one, so I have a lot of catching up to do! Thanks!

rhapsodyinbooks said...

You and Literate Housewife must be the biggest Simon Vance fans in the world! :--)

One thing I thought was a bit jarring in this volume was the bitterness/hate Lisbeth expressed toward Mikael. It didn't seem warranted/appropriate. I don't know. But I loved the book. And wait till you read the 3rd one - it's even better!

bermudaonion said...

I'm so behind! I haven't even read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo yet and I've had it over a year. I've got to get something narrated by Simon Vance so I can check out your ear candy for myself.

JoAnn said...

It sounds like I need to get an audiobook read by Simon Vance! There's an award for you today:
http://lakesidemusing.blogspot.com/2010/02/winter-awards-sharing-love.html

Dar said...

So many people love these books. I still haven't read the first one and I'm still kind of on the fence with it. Maybe the audio would be the way to go.

Nise' said...

Great review! I loved these books and now after reading your review, I want to listen to them as well.

PS you do not have embedded comments.

Ti said...

Even though I enjoyed this book quite a bit, I didn't like it as much as book one. One thing that stood out is that this book was more like a police precedural to me. Once it started to focus on Lisbeth again, I felt the story really picked up.

That Mikael really is a horn-dog isn't he?

Literate Housewife said...

Sandy, I think you more than did justice to this book and our favorite narrator. If Simon Vance's narration wasn't so (fill in the blank - I can't find the right words), I would have already bought the last installment from overseas. I just can't, though. Simon Vance has been just as much a part of my experience of Stieg Larrson's novels as Lisbeth. Great review!

BTW, "all the evil" is still going on, but I feel that it's on its last leg. March should bring about brighter days. :)

Amy Reads Good Books said...

Great review! This is one I keep seeing everywhere and think about picking up. You've convinced me!

Kathleen said...

I still haven't read either of the 2 Larsson books but I need to before May!!! I have them both on my shelves so I have no good excuse for not getting it done.

Beth F said...

I barely skimmed this because I hate to be influenced before I read -- I'll be reading the audio of this too. Can't wait.

Nymeth said...

Your enthusiasm for this series is infectious, Sandy! Still, Larsson is an author I can't make up my mind about. Usually the moment I decide to read him something comes along to make me ponder again. But after a view like this, how can I not lean towards yes?

heidenkind said...

I have The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on my TBR pile. Hopefully I like it...

ds said...

Okay, okay I'll read it (I have to read it--I listened to the first one in the car & nearly drove off the road thanks to a certain scene)! But you are so right about Mr. Vance.
And you do so have the "skillz"!!

The Bumbles said...

I really disliked the first book in this series - just finished it last week. I didn't like his writing, I didn't like his characters, I didn't like how he seemed incapable of resolving plot issues. I thought he had great concepts and was disappointed by the execution. So I'm not going to continue with the series. I'm surprised we are polar opposites on this - it would be fun to have detailed discussions with you!

Matt said...

Your thrill and excitement about this series makes me want to grab that dust-gathering copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and start reading it. Crime thrillers abound in the market that I sometimes don't know which one is good. Now i am definitely on this series!

Iliana said...

Sandy, I feel the same way about Lisbeth as you do. There is just something about her that makes her such a great character right? I found out that the third book comes out on my birthday so I've already told hubby what I want :)

Zibilee said...

I am glad to hear that this book has such a great focus on Lisbeth Salander. She was my very favorite part of the first book, and I am dying to see where the story goes in relation to her and her character. Great review, Sandy. I am going to be reading this one soon as well!

Jenners said...

I can't wait to get started on this series!

Anna said...

I've heard a lot of good things about this series, but for some reason, I'm still on the fence. This review is making me lean toward reading them, though.

--Anna
Diary of an Eccentric