Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

Title: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Author: Stieg Larsson
Translated from the Swedish: Reg Keeland
ISBN: 9780307269997, Alfred A. Knopf, 2010
Genre: Thriller, #3 in the Millennium trilogy
Rating: A
Source: Amazon Vine

First Line: An estimated 600 women served during the American Civil War.

To those of you who aren't up to speed with Larsson's trilogy, I am going to try my best to avoid giving things away, but it's not going to be easy.

In the last book, The Girl Who Played With Fire, Lisbeth Salander-- portrayed as being worse than the Devil himself by media and police-- confronted her very real, very human, demons. In this book, she realizes that confronting them is not enough. She is going to have to destroy them. What goes against her grain is that she is forced to trust journalist Mikael Blomkvist, even to the point of letting him run large sections of the show.

This book even more than the previous two relies on intricate plotting and the pieces fitting together exactly. This book, more than the other two, showed unevenness and sections that needed a much sterner hand at editing. Because the plot was intricate, Larsson spent pages explaining various government agencies, how they were set up, the people they reported to, and so on. These were the sections of the book that made my eyes glaze over.

Another subplot involving Erika Berger, the former editor of Millennium magazine, although illustrating what many women have to deal with in male-dominated sections of the workforce, was really unnecessary and moved the focus away from the most fascinating characters: Salander and Blomkvist. Even Salander's trip to Gibraltar could have been shortened.

Any time the action moved away from that two-character focus, the book began to drag, which is why I feel that it would have benefited from stricter pruning. But was I greatly disappointed in the book? No. I had to see the outcome of Lisbeth Salander's story. Was she going to succeed? How was she going to succeed?

Larsson has given me a wonderful offbeat Dulcinea and her Don Quixote. I may always wonder what the books would have become if Larsson had been allowed to work on them himself, but the characters will always remain: a young woman who refused to accept that everyone else was more important than she, and the man who believed her.


  1. Cathy - Thanks for this review. I think careful editing is such an important part of a good book! I'm glad you enjoyed this last third of the trilogy, and I, too, wonder what would have happened had Larsson lived..

  2. Cathy, you wrote a great review of this book. I agreed with each of your points. I know I read this book in great gulps because I NEEDED to know what happened. I was satisfied with the ending, but your comments about the editing are spot on.

  3. Did you see the article in the Sunday New York Times Magazine? Larsson's girlfriend claims they really messed with the story.

  4. Margot K-- The man definitely knew how to tell a story.

    Kay-- Same here. I HAD to know what happened to Lisbeth.

    Rhapsody-- I missed that. I'll have to see if I can find it. Thanks for telling me about it.

  5. I have the first book in this series, but I haven't cracked it open yet. Looking forward to it after reading your review--thanks!

  6. Julie P...read the book! lol

    it is all about Lizbeth!

  7. Julie-- Hopefully you'll fall for Lisbeth just like I did.

    Caite-- Yes, it is!

  8. I loved all three of these books because they're so complicated--but I have to agree that a bit of editing might have improved them.

  9. Jeanne-- I have a friend who stopped reading in the middle of The Girl Who Played With Fire because the lack of editing was just too much for her. I wanted to make her continue to read because it hurt to think of what she was missing!


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