I vowed on this very blog that I wouldn’t venture into the second and third books of Stieg Larsson’s two-dimensional trilogy about a troubled but brilliant computer hacker with a dragon that snaked up her neck. The first book was, I felt, too slow, too repetitive, to earnest, and too weighed down by unnecessary information. My main complaint was that the first and very boring third of the book—our make-or-break introduction to this trilogy—needed to be dispensed with. It was enough to break my desire to read on to books two and three, and almost even to the end of book one.
But a long time sans book in South America after a rookie packing mistake that saw me cut back on books and underpants (and pay the price on both counts) meant that I was desperate enough to pluck book two, The Girl Who Played With Fire, from the hostel’s book swap shelves.
I’m not going to lie: my gripes with the first book remain and were, for the most part, confirmed by TGWPWF (and as an aside, could they have opted for titles that were any longer? Hence the references to books ‘one’, ‘two’, and ‘three’), which I hurtled through in airport lounges and other vacuums of time and sleep deprivation. Thankfully, though, in book two Larsson doesn’t take the first third of the book to get to the action, with things kicking off almost straight away (well, except for a clichéd wife-beater-on-a-tropical-island thing that doesn’t seem to bear any relevance to the rest of the book). Salander is still annoying as all get up, with her elusiveness and temerity wearing ever thin. Larsson’s writing is still laboured and I guessed the final twist early on, but there were at least a couple of surprises along the way.
In all, I’d say that TGWPWF is not a book to write home about, but it’s finally piqued my interest enough that, having come two thirds, I might as well go the rest of the trilogy way. Here’s hoping my criticisms are proved wrong when Larsson seamlessly and scintillatingly dovetails all the seemingly redundant tangents together in book three.