Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest - Stieg Larsson

Title: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest (Book 3 in the Millennium trilogy)
Author: Stieg Larsson
Publisher: Viking Canada, 2010 (Hardcover)
Length: 563 pages
Genre: Adult; Mystery, True Crime
Started: August 20, 2010
Finished: August 22, 2010

As The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest opens, Lisbeth Salander—the heart and soul of Larsson's two previous novels—is under close supervision in the intensive care unit of a provincial Swedish city hospital. And she's fighting for her life in more ways than one: when she's well enough, she'll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for a triple murder. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she will have to prove her innocence, and identify and denounce the corrupt politicians who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to become victims of abuse and violence. And, on her own, she will plot her revenge—against the man who tried to kill her, and the government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.

Once upon a time, she was a victim. Now, Lisbeth Salander is ready to fight back.

After reading The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire back in January, it felt like forever waiting for this last installment to come out domestically, and then after releasing in May, I bought it and it sat on the shelf till now...and that was only because I urgently needed a book to keep my mind off Mockingjay ^^; Not that I don't desperately love these books, I do, but I was bad and let it sit unread for three months, and I will beg the gods of printed material to forgive this injustice.

I loved The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (1st book) and wasn't as nuts about The Girl Who Played With Fire (2nd book), but still enjoyed it. The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest essentially combined the elements I loved from the first book with the focus on Salander, which more than makes up for any shortcomings the second book had. I didn't adore The Girl Who Played With Fire simply because I knew the outcome of the plot before it even started...well, not exactly, but I knew Lisbeth didn't commit the murders; so the author goes on for 500 pages explaining exactly how she didn't do it, and I had already lost interest long ago and was only paying attention looking for tidbits of Salander's past. But now in The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, Salander lies horribly injured in a hospital and only Blomkvist knows exactly what went on with the murders and Zalachenko, so he spends the first chunk of the novel convincing the powers that be that Lisbeth is innocent and that she's the victim of an insanely huge cover-up initiated by corrupt government officials. The government officials don't care about Zalachenko by this point and only want to save face, so there's a lot of stalking, spying, stealing of documents, and the like to try and cover their asses, so you're not quite sure if Salander's going to be the victim of this cover-up again or if Blomkvist is going to put the whole thing to a halt once and for all. Berger's got a nice little backstory with her move from Millennium to the newspaper and the development of a sexual harassment stalker. You can tell the author was gung-ho for feminism and women's rights, 'cause he just hammers that point home with the combination of Salander and Berger's plotlines.

Salander gets a nice chunk of the focus in this book, but not quite as much as with the previous installment, but what time she was featured was good and worth it. Blomkvist is forever the male whore, he sleeps with practically very woman in the series, but he's still lovable and oh so chivalric towards the women he sleeps with, so I'll forgive him. One thing I wish these books included is a glossary of all the characters broken down by what sector they're in (which ones are cops, which ones are SIS etc.) Ironically The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo included a Vanger family tree to keep track of all those characters, but that's the one novel out of the three that I had no problem keeping track of everyone -_- Also, this author was brilliant in how he manages to keep everything woven together without losing momentum and drive, but dangit, he has a habit of exploring every single person's backstory even it if has no bearing on the plot whatsoever....I mean, the man went on for 4 pages on toilets...yes toilets. Not that the toilets didn't factor into some small part of the plot, but it's not like he couldn't have conveyed the same idea in a few sentences as opposed to a few pages.

With a wonderful, creative plot; good pacing (with a tendency however towards verbal diarrhea), amazing characters, and wonderful exploration of the theme of violence and crimes against women, this is one series I'm sad to see finish, especially since the author has passed away, so there won't be any chance of continuation in the future. This is really unfortunate since Lisbeth Salander is probably one of the most brilliant characters I've encountered in a long time, I feel like I actually know her as a person and not just on paper.

If you're like me and loved the first installment but wasn't nuts about the second, be sure to finish up by reading this third and final installment, it makes up for the let-down you get from book 2.

Thoughts on the cover:
This is probably the one I liked best out of the three, possibly because it's shiny, possibly because it incorporates the title in a way that's actually well done.

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