debc: (Beckett Reads)
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The Girl Who Played with FireThe Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It's hard to believe that I only started this one a couple of days ago and I'm already finished, but I did have that nice 9 hour ride back to Virginia in which to read it.

This one was definitely more fast-paced than 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' and more involving, at least for me. It just kinds of pushes you right into the center of things, as opposed to wading into them, which was the first book's approach.

I'll be honest, there were a couple of points that did raise some flags for me. Not anger or squick, but more like annoyance because they came up so often, more so than the first book.

The first being the misogyny, which was a repeated theme. Lisbeth is the survivor of an abusive childhood and something of a crusader against crimes against women. But it's counter-balanced by the amount of men in this story who commit crimes against women, or even who merely think of women as inferior to themselves. Lawyers, police officers, journalists, private investigators... and then the criminals involved in the crimes themselves. While this wasn't a huge factor in 'Girl with the Dragon Tattoo', there were places in this one where it felt like I was choking on it.

The second 'annoyance' was that for an outsider and a loner, Lisbeth seemed to have a lot of people willing to go to bat for her, including a famous boxer who comes out of nowhere to save her kidnapped friend. Blomkvist and Armansky I can understand, but a famous retired boxer who just happens to have taught her everything she knows about real fighting? The fanfic writer in me was screaming "Mary Sue! Mary Sue!"
before I could stifle the reaction. It seemed... improbable at best.

Regardless of these two issues of mine, it really was an entertaining and enjoyable read. I was glad to see that Bjurman got what was coming to him and more than glad Lisbeth hadn't done it. And it was interesting learning more about her back story.

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The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's NestThe Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well, I have finally finished reading the last of the Millenium trilogy.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest started off almost exactly where The Girl Who Played with Fire left off, with Lisbeth in the hospital and Blomkvist working his butt off to right the wrongs done to her all of her life. The resolution of his efforts took all of the book to come to fruition (well, duh), and at times, it was a slow and arduous read. I’ve come to realize this must have been typical of Larsson’s writing style -- bits of quickly paced action interspersed with slower interesting stuff and even slower factual stuff. And that’s purely okay, even if it bog down my reading in a few places. It wouldn’t have stopped me from snagging another book had this series continued.

What I enjoyed the most about this book was that Lisbeth’s wrongs were righted in the end. This, perhaps, lends more than a bit to the Mary-Sueism I mentioned in my last review, but it satisfied my need for closure. I would have been extremely let down if the book had ended without it and I was left hanging because Larsson is dead and unable to finish telling us what comes next. (On the other hand, oh, the fanfic!) But the closure was there, and the baddies from Section, Faste, and Teleborian all got what truly coming to them and in spectacular fashion.

The only ‘loose end’ that I felt needed tying up was the issue of Lisbeth’s sister, Camille, whose existence was often used as the stick by which Lisbeth’s was measured and compared. We are led to believe that Camille supressed all of their childhood horrors, testified that their father never abused them or their mother, and then slipped away to lead a supposed normal life, having nothing to do with her mother or sister. But in Girl Who Played with Fire, Zalachenko asks Lisbeth where her sister is. The sister comes up again during the trial and afterwards, when their father’s estate is being liquidated. And yet, we never see her. We never get to hear what became of her.

It brings up several questions for a curious mind with lots of “what ifs.” What if... Camille Salander saw her sister’s trial and was flooded with all the memories she had repressed? What if... she snapped sometime prior to this, due to the repression or due to her father’s “bad blood”, and turned out to be worse of a monster than the one the Section was trying to make Lisbeth into? What if she committed suicide? Was she even alive to see or hear about the trial? Did she care that her sister had won her freedom at a last or that their father was dead? What if the real reason no one knew her whereabouts was because the Section had already gotten to her? What if they murdered her to keep her out of the way?

Again, a lot of “what ifs” there. I can’t help but wonder what might have happened, had Larsson lived to write another book. I guess I will never know.

In regards to the series as a whole, I would definitely recommend them to other people. Yes, it did start out slow and have odd places where the factual trivia seemed to weigh it down, but the series is really very good despite those flaws. And if you can look past the at-times very thick misogyny to see the true point of it all, then it’s well worth reading them. I probably would not have, had it not been for the recommendation of them by a friend and the encouragement that The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo did, in fact, pick up in pacing after a fashion. You could say it was challenge to read them, but one I am glad for.

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