6.8.2023 | Thursday

The Girl Who Played with Fire

category: Book Reviews

The Girl Who Played with Firetitle: The Girl Who Played with Fire
author: Stieg Larsson
series: Millennium #2
published: 20 July 2009
publisher: Vintage
genre(s): thrillers
pages: 723
source: library
format: eBook
buy/shelve it: Amazon | Goodreads

rating: four-half-stars | series rating: four-stars

the blurb

The ExposeMillenium publisher Mikael Blomkvist has made his reputation exposing corrupt establishment figures. So when a young journalist approaches him with an investigation into sex trafficking, Blomkvist cannot resist waging war on the powerful figures who control this lucrative industry.

The MurderWhen a young couple is found dead in their Stockholm apartment, it's a straightforward job for Inspector Bublanski and his team. The killer left the weapon at the scene - and the fingerprints on the gun point in only one direction.

The Girl Who Played with FireEx-security analyst Lisbeth Salander is wanted for murder. Her history of unpredictable and vengeful behaviour makes her an official danger to society - but no-one can find her. The only way Salander can be reached is by computer. But she can break into almost any network she chooses...

❗❗ content warning: graphic violence, murder, sex assault, rape, incest ❗❗

a few notes

steamy rating: 0 🔥s
language level:

POV: 3rd person
HEA: n/a
keywords/phrases: Sweden, assault, social injustice, misogyny, domestic violence


  • Anthony Award Nominee for Best Novel (2009)
  • Dilys Award Nominee (2009)
  • CWA International Dagger Nominee (2008)
  • Svenska Deckarakademins pris för bästa svenska kriminalroman (2005)
  • Goodreads Choice Award for Mystery/Thriller (2008)

my review

This book, in my opinion, was equally as good as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. But like that first novel, it is a hefty tome, and it takes a bit to get to the meat of the main story. However, although that is usually a negative point for me, there is something about the author’s storytelling that appeals to me so much that I am not bothered by that. It’s almost an exposition of character building, and with characters as complex as those in this series, I enjoy getting to know them that way.

It’s truly masterful in that Larsson has created a character in Lisbeth Salander that is somehow both morally charcoal grey and a heroine, often at the same time and in the same situation. She does things that are, at least on the surface, morally reprehensible. But it’s often difficult to feel all that bad for her so-called victims as they are always the worst of the worst, vile human filth. She is incredibly violent, but it’s difficult to judge her for that when it is only turned against those who have done horrible things. There’s the reality that oftentimes her violence saves others. There are times when she is over the top in the way she accomplishes her goals, but it never involves actual violence against innocents, although she’s not above a little intimidation in a crisis. It’s an odd dichotomy.

I also appreciate the fact that while Larsson often wrote incredibly misogynistic characters, there is never the feeling that he held those same ideas. Instead, it feels like a commentary against those thoughts and beliefs. Too often, male authors writing misogyny come off as holding those very same ideals.

About Stieg Larsson

Stieg Larsson (born as Karl Stig-Erland Larsson) was a Swedish journalist and writer who passed away in 2004.

As a journalist and editor of the magazine Expo , Larsson was active in documenting and exposing Swedish extreme right and racist organisations. When he died at the age of 50, Larsson left three unpublished thrillers and unfinished manuscripts for more. The first three books ( The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo , The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest ) have since been printed as the Millenium series. These books are all bestsellers in Sweden and in several other countries, including the United States and Canada.

Witnessed a rape when he was 15, and was helpless to stop it. This event haunted him for the rest of his life. The girl being raped was named Lisbeth, which he later used as the name of the heroine on his Millenium trilogy. Sexual violence against women is also a recurring theme in his work.

Rating Report
Overall: four-half-stars

reading challenges:

  • 2023 Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge
  • 2023 Library Love Reading Challenge
  • 2023 Linz the Bookworm Reading Challenge
  • 2023 Monthly Motif Reading Challenge
::spread the love::

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