Monday, November 29, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson - Book Review #118

Monday, November 29, 2010
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium #3)
by Stieg Larsson, Reg Keeland (Translator)

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium #1) review.
The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium #2) review.

Lisbeth Salander—the heart of Larsson’s two previous novels—lies in critical condition, a bullet wound to her head, in the intensive care unit of a Swedish city hospital. She’s fighting for her life in more ways than one: if and when she recovers, she’ll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for three murders. With the help of her friend, journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she will not only have to prove her innocence, but also identify and denounce those in authority who have allowed the vulnerable, like herself, to suffer abuse and violence. And, on her own, she will plot revenge—against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.

Once upon a time, she was a victim. Now Salander is fighting back.

I’m very glad that my husband talked me into reading Millennium series. As I wrote in my review for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, I wasn’t even planning to look twice on this series, mostly because of the first book’s synopsis, until my husband read these books.

Even though, I enjoyed The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest very much, I still had same issues with the third book as I did with the first two. It started slow for me and for the first fifty or so pages I actually had to push myself to read it. At some points of the novel, Larsson’s past as a journalist and non-fiction writer was easily recognized and this is one of the first times he was trying himself in fiction writing. By the third book, I got used to Swedish first, last, cities and streets names and it made the process of reading a lot easier than previous books. However, I’m still not able to pronounce at least half of the names, so my talking about these books resembles a gibberish puzzle (constantly using instead of proper names “this” and “that”).

I was a bit disappointed that Salander spent the most part of the book in the hospital and was mostly unable to use her extraordinary talents. Synopsis of the third book promised us that Now Salander is fighting back. Unfortunately, it seems like most of the fighting was done by Blomkvist and Säpo. So I didn’t get enough of Salander, the girl who has become one of my favorite fiction characters.

I still consider the first book in the trilogy to be my favorite one, nevertheless, the third book come very close and almost made a tie. Some parts of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest made me do a surprised “Whoa!” – as an example, the scene with Zalachenko’s “departure”. I absolutely adored dynamics of the questioning in the courtroom scene– superb writing that created a very powerful motion.

In each of three books, Larsson began new part with interesting information. In the first book, it was statistical information. In the second book, it was mathematical definitions. And in the third book, Larsson supplied reader with historical facts on the subject of female solders throughout the centuries. I really enjoyed this special touch of the books.

Overall, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest was a satisfying ending of the delightful series. It got very close to the fairy-tale ending with a huge pink bow on top of it, where everyone got precisely what they deserved. However, I still got a feeling that Larsson might have being leaving some loose ends for the possible sequel. Unfortunately, Stieg Larsson is dead. At the end of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, the realization that I was about to finish reading the last Larsson’s book made me very sad.

Millennium series is a serenade to women, their powers and abilities, their place in society. This is a declaration against violence and discriminations towards women. I’m still scratching my head why in the USA Millennium series were promoted as men’s books. So first of all, I recommend this series to all women and only after that to men who are not afraid of strong women.

P.S. The great parody on Millennium series from The New Yorker.


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