Ratty (blinger) wrote in 50bookchallenge,

Books 33 & 34 - 2012

Book 33: The Girl who played with fire by Stieg Larsson – 569 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Lisbeth Salander is a wanted woman. Two Millennium journalists about to expose the truth about sex trafficking in Sweden are murdered, and Salander's prints are on the weapon. Her history of unpredictable and vengeful behaviour makes her an official danger to society - but no-one can find her. Mikael Blomkvist, editor-in-chief of Millennium, does not believe the police. Using all his magazine staff and resources to prove Salander's innocence, Blomkvist also uncovers her terrible past, spent in criminally corrupt institutions. Yet Salander is more avenging angel than helpless victim. She may be an expert at staying out of sight - but she has ways of tracking down her most elusive enemies.

The second book in the Millennium trilogy is less of a stand alone story like the first book, and more of a exploration of the character of Lisbeth Salander, and a lead in to the third book. Like Dragon Tattoo it is very readable, but perhaps a little more forgettable. Larsson did a wonderful job creating complex, three-dimensional characters, who have flaws that would potentially make them unlikeable but whom Larsson manages to write in such a way that you don’t dislike them enough for their flaws to dislike them completely. They are very, whole complete characters. These books (all three) are very detailed, and very long, and while this can often drag a book down, Larsson makes it work by weaving such a complex web of characters and events, and by not focusing purely on one character but telling multiple characters’ perspectives throughout (these in my opinion are the best style of books, particularly when writing a series, because it means the reader is less likely to get bored – but I may be biased, because this is how I write my book series). Moreover, it is very impressive to see how Larsson ties the whole story together, and I never felt like there was some huge plot hole, or deus ex machina that made the story completely unbelievable (though maybe not in Sweden – can Sweden be that corrupt? It just doesn’t come across that way – I don’t know, I’ve never been to Sweden). A fascinating crime read and an enjoyable introduction into a country I’d one day like to visit.

33 / 50 books. 66% done!

9665 / 15000 pages. 64% done!

Book 34: Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult – 453 pages

Description from bookdepository.co.uk:
Paige's mother left when she was five. When Paige becomes a mother herself, she is overwhelmed by the demands. Unable to forget her past, Paige struggles with the difficulties of marriage and motherhood.

What the above description fails to mention is Pagie’s husband, Nicholas. This is only my third Picoult book and after reading The Tenth Circle and enjoying it so much I thought I’d be bold and take on another Picoult book. Unlike in the Tenth Circle, Nicholas, the husband in this one, was infuriating. He’s a surgeon, a heart surgeon (hence the title) and he’s very, very good. He’s also from a well-to-do family: his father’s self-made, a doctor also, and his mother is a rich girl who went on to become a very, very famous photographer. In some respects, I could relate to Nicholas. His whole life he has to be ‘on’, meeting the expectations of his family, of his community, and eventually his colleagues and superiors in the medical profession. Paige, a young Catholic school girl, raised by her Irish father when her mother leaves when she’s five, is a breath of fresh air to Nicholas, and initially these opposites seem to make sense. And then life gets in the way. For the most part, things are going peachy until their son, Max, is born. Max is a trying baby and Paige struggles. The problem is Nicholas is also not supportive. He somehow just expects Paige to able to shut up Max when he wants to sleep, and can’t understand why Paige can’t juggle keeping the house up to scratch and being a mother. The thing is as events of the story unfold, Nicholas never seems to get just how much pressure Paige is under or how unreasonable he is being. It’s all take and no give. So whilst I felt sorry for him from a job perspective, he was the most frustrating character to really like because he was just so self-absorbed. Paige’s mother, too, was infuriating, a woman who just didn’t seem to ‘get’ being a mother. Really, poor Paige didn’t have a hope in hell. In the end, I really felt sorry for her, and actually quite liked Nicholas’ parents, who in some respects tried to get across to their son exactly what he was missing, even if it seemed to go straight over his head. The ending is kind of unsatisfactory, in that it doesn’t exactly wrap things up. Still I enjoyed it, and like the Tenth Circle it certainly had me thinking. Picoult proves once again that she can write characters that will definitely get under your skin.

34 / 50 books. 68% done!

10118 / 15000 pages. 67% done!

Currently reading:
-        American Gods by Neil Gaiman – 588 pages
-        The Sexual Paradox: Troubled Boys, Gifted Girls and the Real Difference between the Sexes by Susan Pinker – 308 pages
-        My Point…and I Do Have One by Ellen DeGeneres – 211 pages

And coming up:
-        The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant: Volume 3: White Gold Wielder by Stephen Donaldson – 500 pages
-        The Odyssey by Homer – 324 pages
-        One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – 290 pages
Tags: crime fiction, drama, european, family saga, international, legal, love, thriller

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