Wednesday 10 November 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest by Stieg Larsson

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest is the third book in the acclaimed Millennium trilogy, and completes the tale of Lisbeth Salander. In this novel we find her recovering from the events at the end of the second book, facing trial for attempted murder and various other counts. Mikael Blomkvist knows that she is innocent, and, in fact, is the victim of a conspiracy that goes to the very top of government - can he prove her innocence before she is locked away?

That little summary does not do justice to the sheer detail of plot in this novel. We are introduced to various characters within secret police departments, within SMP (the newspaper that Erica Berger moves to), within the criminal fraternity. We are shown subplots concerning revenge, romance and money. You certainly get bang for your buck here!

My biggest complaint about the two prior books in the trilogy was the extreme slow-burn start of both. In this novel we pick up the events immediately following the end of book two, so Larsson hits the ground running. I loved the way the plot built and knitted together - but I have a new complaint. Instead of the slow burn start, we have two instances of about 20 pages each within The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest where the plot slows to an absolute crawl as Larsson stops to explain the formation of a secret government department. Even given that I was desperate to find out what would happen to Lisbeth, I almost put the book away at these two periods. Slow, dull and dry.

It is hard to say whether this is Larsson's writing or the translation his original manuscript was given - but I've heard that the translation is deemed to be above par, which means the fault goes to Larsson.

In spite of this, I found the novel a fitting and exciting conclusion to this massive, sprawling trilogy. There are some real fist-punching-the-air moments. Lisbeth Salander becomes more... human. We see her interacting with more people in this book, both online and in real life, and her dark humour yet serious demeanour are displayed to great effect. I make no secret of the fact that she is one of the very best heroines I have read in recent times. It takes real skill to make readers care for a sociopath who refuses to take help from people and has zero social skills.

The fact is that if you read the first two books in the trilogy, you'll be picking this book up. If you discarded The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in the first fifty pages, you won't be touching this with a barge-pole. BUT I write this review for anyone who is considering picking up the first book in the trilogy. Do it. Work hard through those first two hundred pages. The pay-off is unbelievable. These are three of the most entertaining novels I've read this year and they absolutely deserve the acclaim.

1 comment:

  1. I agree. This series is well worth a read from anyone who is hesitating. There are certainly slow parts, but the rest more than makes up for that.
    Its more than a shame that the full cycle won't get completed, but I was pleased that at least the trilogy pretty much stands on its own and wraps up the events within the scope of the trilogy.