Friday, May 21, 2010

a review of "The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest" [36]

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson
(Knopf, ISBN-13: 978-0307269997)

Along with many fans of the first two books in Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, I have awaited the final book in the series with a bit of trepidation. As you may know, Larsson died of a massive heart attack after the completion of this third book, at the age of 50. But had he lived, it seems that he planned to write perhaps as many as 10 books and it is believed that there exist as much as 3/4 of a fourth books and parts of a fifth and sixth.
So where, we fans wondered, would this third book leave us? Would there be another cliffhanger, like the one that ended the second book, The Girl Who Played With Fire? Would questions be left unanswered, loose ends dangling, never to be tied up? Would we ever know why Lisbeth Salander has such a fondness for those frozen pizzas?

Well, fear not. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest is a very worthy successor to the previous two books, and oddly, since he had no idea it would be his last book, a very good conclusion to the story of Lisbeth and Mikael Blomkvist. A darn good story with a riveting ending.

Now, if you are not familiar with these three books, I will warn you, do not try to start with this one. You will be hopelessly confused. No, in essence, these three books are really just one very large, very complicated story and you must start at the beginning with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Even then, I do not guarantee that you will not be a bit confused at times. The Swedish names, the Swedish places, are hard to keep straight for an English speaker. In fact, I know people that kept a list while reading to go back and consult. And this is a complicated story, this volume maybe even more so than the previous two. The wonder is, that even with these issues, these are three excellent books, real turn pagers, with perhaps one of the most unique and intriguing characters an author has ever created.
Yes, really these books are all about Lizbeth Salander.

In the first book we were introduced to her. Small, slight, often mistaken for a teenager, with dyed black hair and multiple piercings..and of course that tattoo.
She lives almost completely off the grid, is extremely anti-social, but also extremely intelligent, with a photographic memory, unsurpassed in her computer skills, making her living..and seeking her revenge...largely through her hacking skills. Oh yes, she is a young woman who has been terribly wronged and abused, as we learn in the second book, and she is after those responsible.

We left her at the end of that book with a bullet in her head and buried alive, at the hands of the evil Alexander Zalachenko, who himself ended up with an axe in his face. Well, while not giving away too much, they both survived, gravely wounded. But that is not Lizbeth's only problem. She is still considered to be responsible for three murders and the assault on Zalachenko, and if some very powerful people at the very heart of the Swedish government have their way, she will never be free to tell her story. In fact, they might prefer if she just disappeared completely. So while it is against her very nature, Lizbeth will be forced to trust a small band of people, led of course, by the crusading Blomkvist, who will try to get to the heart of this decades old conspiracy. It is a conspiracy whose tentacles reach to the highest places in the government, but if they fail, Lizabeth may never be free again and those responsible may never be brought to justice.

As I said, this is a big...almost 600 pages...and complex story, with perhaps a more detailed explanation of the Swedish government and it's history since WWII than I might have liked. There are also a number of sub-plots in the book, including a new, unexpected love interest for Mikael and the introduction of new characters, especially Mikael's sister Annika Giannini, Lizbeth excellent defense attorney. In these three books we have seen Nazis and serial killers, corporate corruption and secret government plots, mobsters and human trafficking, any number of confusing Swedish names that might make you think it is just a bit too over the top. And yet, somehow Larsson makes it all work and has been able to keep us on the edge of our seats, keep us turning those pages and rewarding us with a great tale. Happily in this volume, he has created another great chapter in Lizbeth's story, with a quite satisfying ending.
A very highly recommended book in a very highly recommended series.

My thanks to Amazon Vine for an ARC of this book.
The rest of you will have to waits a few days to get your hands on it, since the book will be published in the US on May 25.

...and now, for your entertainment, the trailer from the Swedish movie of the book.


  1. I am eagerly awaiting this book!

  2. Yeah baby! My blood pressure is running kinda high waiting on the arrival of the audio from the library for this one. And once I get it, of course, I'm going to want to go hide somewhere and listen to the whole thing, which, at 600 pages, is going to take a bit of time. I'm afraid I'm going to be so totally sad when it is over.

  3. nice review--I have seen this book on so many blogs. It must be pretty big right now.

  4. I am so behind! I haven't even read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo yet.

  5. Thanks to you, I just finished this book tonight! I agree with you ... I was worried it was going to feel unresolved at the end because I had heard it was not meant to be the last book but I think I was very satisfied with the ending ... it worked and it felt "cleaned up." Thank goodness. I feel like I can walk away from Lisbeth and Mikael and leave them in a good place.

    And I agree with you 100% about being confused and lost with the Swedish names and places ... at times, I just kind of guessed who I was reading about.

    Thank you again for sending me your "extra" copy!!!! I'm eternally grateful!

  6. I loved the 3rd book! I thought it started up with a much bigger bang than the other two. But I agree with you though, it isn't one you should pick up without having read the others. I really had a sad feeling at the end too, because it could easily have gone on, but of course there is no more Larsson to do that.

  7. although, as I said, there are hints of a fourth book. in fact, it has been the subject of major estate fights since his death. sure you have a will!

  8. Caite, I didn't finish reading your review because I'm only four days away from non-stop Stieg Larsson/Simon Vance goodness. I did read the paragraph you wrote about how it would end given the author's plans for many other books. I'm so glad that the ending is satisfying, even with hints of what might have happened had he not died.

    I've never been one to think about or read fan fiction, but I might consider reading what other people think happens next.

    P.S. I am exactly opposite of you regarding foreign words. If I don't know how to pronounce them, I get really frustrated and it takes away from the novel. So, reading these novels via audiobook was perfect for me.

    I am really hoping that the movie comes near me, but Roanoke isn't big on subtitled movies. Thank God there's Netflix!

  9. LH, I have no idea how the movie came so quickly to our little South Jersey backwater, but happy it did.
    I liked the movie a great deal but I did wonder if someone who had not read the book would be able to follow the very complicated story...and the first is the least complicated of the three.

  10. what an amazing review and great summary of the first 2 books! did you read the NY times article that came out today about the fight between the family and Stieg Larsson's long-term girlfriend? It was excellent! But I'm a huge Larsson groupie anyways! Fantastic review!!!!

  11. I've heard some people suggesting the third part of the Larsson trilogy is not as good as the earlier ones. There are doubts, but which book can give me insurance it won't disappoint me. The reputation of the author (his death has increased my curiosity) is huge, so may be the book would be worth the money. By the way, has anybody bought the book from I have heard they are offering the highest discount among the bookstores. Let me know if it is correct.

  12. thank you stacy...I try. ;-)

    I did read the article. You know, I feel for his girlfriend, for want of a better name for her, but...
    that is why people make legal arrangements. like MARRIAGE. or even a will..or something. Did neither of them ever consider something, anything could happen?


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