Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Book Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson

A couple of weeks ago I finished Stieg Larsson's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo". It was excellent. Well written, engaging, expertly narrated. It is highly recommended reading from Team Magica. I immediately (and eagerly) downloaded the second installment of the trilogy "The Girl who Played with Fire". It's a three part audiobook that runs over 18 hours - a substantial listen even in many fragments. A credit to Mr Larsson's skill was that there wasn't a single moment that I felt was wasted - the writing and plot was that strong from start to finish.

There's almost nothing I can write about this novel without giving away spoliers to "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"...And you know that I won't spoil plot lines in my reviews - not here anyway.

A few points of discussion however - With Dragon Tattoo I really needed a family tree/flow chart to understand who the individual Vangers were and how they were related. That complexity isn't there in "Played with Fire". Some of the police detectives have names that sound alike - but many of the original Dragon Tattoo characters are back this novel.

Again Stieg Larsson surprises the reader with making connections that were unexpected - I won't go into more detail - but the last hour of "Played with Fire" kept me on my toes. The narration of "The Girl Who Played with Fire" was well narrated. I've found that the more books I listen to, the fewer mistakes I'll accept from narrators. There's a clear distinction between good and bad narration and I don't have much patience for the mediocre productions. The one downside to Simon Vance's characters is that a few of them seem forced. The voice of  Dragan Armansky (head of Milton Security and Lisbeth's former employer) at times sounds like the Sesame Street's Count (ONE - EH EH EH EH EH EH, TWO - EH EH EH EH EH EH EH EH), then the voice of Zala's strongman sounds a bit like a falsetto Jersey-boy. The effect is slightly irritating and detracts from the context of the characters.

Finally, I'd encourage anyone who reads "The Girl who Plays with Fire" to have "The Girl who Kicked a Hornet's Nest" close by - there isn't a lot of closure at the end of "The Girl who Plays with Fire". You'll definitely want to start Hornet's Nest right away. Now that Hornet's Nest has been released (May 25th, 2010) you don't have to wait for the next release - but I wouldn't have been pleased to wait a year for the third book in the trilogy.

The Girl who Played with Fire was written by Stieg .Larson, narrated by Simon Vance and published by Random House Audio. The Audiobook release date was July 28th, 2009. The Girl Who Played with Fire (unabridged version) has a runtime of 18 hours 38 minutes.

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