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Stieg Larsson – The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

August 9, 2010

89. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson, translated by Reg Keeland (original 2007; English translation 2010)
Millennium Trilogy, Book 3

Read my review of book:
1. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
2. The Girl Who Played with Fire

Read By: Simon Vance
Length: 20h 16m (576 pages)

Genre: Thriller

Started: 11 July 2010
Finished: 31 July 2010

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I’d liked the previous two books, and I needed to know how it ended.

I’d like to see YOU
get tried for murder with a
bullet in your brain.

Summary: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest picks up only minutes after the cliffhanger ending of The Girl Who Played With Fire. After being shot in the head during her run-in with her father – the Russian defector and criminal mastermind Alexander Zalachenko – Lisbeth Salander is in critical care at the hospital. Unfortunately, she’s also still under arrest for a triple homicide, and being kept under lock and key in a hospital room does not offer her a wide range of options to prepare for her trial. Also arrayed against her is the fact that she knows secrets about Zalachenko that a small group of very powerful people want very much to keep secret, and they’re willing to go to extreme lengths to make sure she – and Mikael Blomkvist, who has uncovered many of these same secrets – stay quiet.

Review: Many reviews that I’ve seen of this book, and this series as a whole, complain about the excruciatingly large amount of unnecessary detail in Larsson’s writing. I’m not going to dispute that. I myself have complained about Larsson’s seemingly irressistable urge to provide the life history and backstory of even the most minor of characters. I’ve wondered how these books would be different if Larsson had lived to see them published, and could have had a few more go-rounds with an editor. (In this book in particular, there was a half-hour tangent on toilets. It led to an important plot point, and may have been setting up something for future books, but the same plot effect could have been done without the rambly lecture on the economics of the Swedish housing market.) So, I don’t disagree that these books are longer than they need to be, and packed with a lot of extraneous detail. The marvelous thing about Larsson’s writing, though, is that I quite firmly do not care. Even though it’s not my genre of choice, something about his style and his story is just so compelling that I’m a willing and eager audience, even when the topic at hand is toilets.

The compelling nature of Larsson’s story is down in large part to his characters. Salander (and increasingly Blomkvist) are both totally fascinating people, complex and interesting, and mesmerizing if not always entirely sympathetic. I was initially a bit frustrated with this book, because there weren’t enough chapters from Salander’s point of view (understandable, given that she’s in a hospital with not much happening and not much to do), but as the book went on, I became increasingly enamored of two of Larsson’s other female protagonists, Erika Berger, and Annika Giannini. Salander gets all the credit for being a tough feminist hero, refusing to be bullied or victimized, but I thought Larsson’s other women were equally strong, and equally unwilling to take any bullshit due to their gender, and I really enjoyed reading their parts. In fact, as the book wore on, I think I almost enjoyed their parts more than Salander’s, since she undergoes a bit of a shift towards the end of the book. Her schtick has always been that she refuses to be a victim – that’s what makes her such a beloved character.. but in this book, she does a total 180 and almost embraces her victim status (when it suits her, of course), becoming more than a little whiney. While it wasn’t out of keeping with her character arc, it was a little obnoxious, and caused me to cool towards her a bit by the end. Thankfully, though, there were more than enough interesting things happening in the rest of the novel to keep me totally engrossed and very entertained. 4 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: This is one of those books where I feel like my recommendation is pointless: you shouldn’t start on the third book, and anyone who’s gotten to the second book will probably read the third as a matter of course. I will recommend the series as a whole to almost everyone, even if it’s outside of their normal comfort zone – I don’t usually read mysteries/thrillers, but I still enjoyed the heck out of it.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Alison’s Book Marks, Another Cookie Crumbles, Confessions of a Bibliophile, Gripping Books, I’d So Rather Be Reading, The Literate Housewife Review, A Lovely Shore Breeze, My Novel Reviews, Mysteries in Paradise, Necromancy Never Pays, Nose in a Book, Outlandish Dreaming, Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, Reviewsbylola’s Blog, Rhapsody in Books Weblog, S. Krishna’s Books, You’ve Gotta Read This
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: Dr Jonasson was woken by Nurse Nicander five minutes before the helicopter was expected to land.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 9, 2010 8:59 am

    I need to start this series! I’m anxious to try a writer who can ramble eloquently about toilets!

    • August 9, 2010 2:42 pm

      Kathy – I don’t know if it’s exactly eloquent… but it’s definitely compulsively readable!

  2. August 9, 2010 5:04 pm

    This was my least favorite of the series but regardless, it’s a great book from a great series.

    • August 13, 2010 11:34 am

      Lola – It’s probably my least favorite of the three too, but I still ate it up.

  3. August 10, 2010 3:32 pm

    I liked Annika.

    • August 13, 2010 11:35 am

      charley – Wasn’t she great? It was all I could do to keep from cheering in a couple of places towards the end.

  4. August 12, 2010 3:52 pm

    I have THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO on my stack at the moment. You made me want to drop everything and get to it right now!

    I do have a question about the series, though. My husband watched the first movie (the foreign version) and said it was extremely violent and graphic. Are the books that way?

    • August 13, 2010 11:38 am

      Jessica – Yes. I’ve seen the first movie and thought it stayed pretty true to the book. The books aren’t gory, and they’re not *constantly* violent, but all of them are punctuated with bursts of pretty intense violence. It’s awful in some places, but not so awful that it made me want to put the book down… but then again, I’m at the less-squeamish end of the scale, so take that for what it’s worth.

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