The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Millenium #3) by Stieg Larsson Review
Disclaimer: The first paragraph contains mild spoilers for The Girl who Played with Fire (Millenium #2)
Lisbeth Salander—computer hacker and genius—lies in close supervision in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. After being shot, she is fighting for her life in more ways than one. When she’s well enough, she’ll stand trial for three murders. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist and his sister, Annika Giannini, she will have to prove her innocence and unearth the corrupt politicians and government institutions that nearly destroyed her life.
Each book in this trilogy felt different from one another. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a traditional detective mystery with modern twists. The Girl who Played with Fire is more of an action-filled thriller. The last installment in Larsson’s conceived trilogy felt more like a legal suspense novel, similar to John Grisham’s works. In fact, this didn’t feel like a standalone novel; this felt like a continuation from the second one.
What bugged me about the second novel was the overload of characters with no distinct personalities whatsoever. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest does the same, giving viewpoints to most of the characters (in third person, even from the antagonists), but it’s done in a more intriguing manner, in my perspective at least. It is extremely dense, ranging over 800 pages, but it read quickly, unlike the second one. The air of mystery and that strong thirst for vengeance definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. The publishing terms may come off to readers as superfluous and unnecessary, but I believe it fit the novel perfectly as it was a legal suspense one, even having an incredible trial scene.
Despite being more engaging than its predecessor, what held this novel back for me was Lisbeth Salander’s absence for most of the action in the story. Salander is the heart of these books and the center of the story. She is what drives the plot forward. While Blomkvist and the supporting characters held my interest for most of the time, it’s Lisbeth that made these books a cut above the average mystery/crime thrillers. Although Salander did have memorable moments, most of these are occasional and verging towards the end only. It was a shame that we didn’t get to see more of her in Larsson’s last book.
As I conclude Larsson’s trilogy (excluding Spider’s Web), I wondered about why I, like so many other readers, find Salander such a compelling character. Maybe it’s because I never met anyone like her? Or her skills at programming and hacking are just excellent? She may be unfriendly at times, a sociopath, one who prefers being the lone wolf rather than joining the entire pack. She may have mood swings, bludgeoning one with silence when one is trying to be conversational to her. Although she has this traits, there is something wonderful in her ability to fight the odds, to survive, to defeat, and to somehow make the right friends that are always there for her when she cannot fight for herself. I may not met anyone significantly like her yet, but there are probably many people like her in the world, those who may look unfriendly or strange, but are actually strong-willed and diligent on the inside. Through Lisbeth, their story had to be told. Thank you, Stieg Larsson, for creating such a wonderful character. I only wish that he was alive and sitting in Sweden on a pile of money right now as he continuously sold out more terrific thrillers like these.
Read April 2017