The Girl Who Played With Fire is a rather uneven thriller. I slept-read through most of the rather dull first 400 pages and was dreading having to write a blisteringly negative (though likely viewed by most readers as contrarian) review on my iMac G5 with 4 GBs of RAM and a 320 GB hard drive.
It's dull because the hinge for the novel — the murders (not giving away anything here that's not on the cover blurb) of which Lisbeth is accused — doesn't even happen until almost halfway through the book. And so there's nearly 300 pages of scene-setting, including following Lisbeth through a vacation-turned-hurricane-escape in Grenada and then watching as she gets re-acclimated to life in Stockholm. Huh? And then it's dull because there are three separate investigations into the murders, and Stieg keeps repeating details as he tells us about each one. And, finally, it's dull because of the false drama — even though Stieg wants you to, you never really believe that it was Lisbeth who committed the murders
But then everything changed. The turning point for me is the scene in which famous Swedish boxer Paolo Roberto tries to rescue Lisbeth's friend Miriam from the giant blond villain who's right out of James Bond. The reason this particular scene slapped me out of my malaise is simple: It's friggin' hilarious! Paolo sneaks up on the giant, who turns and immediately recognizes him as a celebrity. "You're Paolo Roberto," he says. The absurdity! Not sure why it struck me so funny, but I couldn't stop giggling.
It's probably not coincidental, then, that after that, I was all-in, and Stieg really steps on the gas. As Lisbeth's past secrets are revealed, and the action burns faster, it's tough to put this sucker down. The last third does't quite redeem the first two-thirds, but it's still a fun book. And there's a bit of a cliffhanger at the end to ensure you'll pick up The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest to find out what happens next.
I didn't think this one was as good as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in terms of intrigue, but once you wade through the needed-to-be-edited-and-probably-would-have-had-Steig-not-died parts, finding out about what's made Lisbeth Lisbeth is really interesting.
What'd you think? Better or worse than Dragon Tattoo? Bored as I was for most of the novel?
(Also, can anyone explain what it is that Lisbeth suddenly realized about the x3+y3=z3 equation on page 472? That's really buggin' me!)