190 of 213 people found the following review helpful
A page turner - after 600 pages
, 14 May 2010
This review is from: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest (Millennium Trilogy Book 3) (Paperback)
If by any chance you are reading this review wondering if you might get a taster of this much talked about trilogy by diving in at the end, my advice is simple: don't. 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' was a brilliantly original start to this series, and introduced us to one of the most compelling anti-hero creations in Lisbeth Salandar. The second volume - 'The Girl Who Played with Fire' - lost much of the sophistication of the first, and was a lesser book for it - but actually managed to be even more gripping. This third volume could not be more different.
It might have been titled 'The Girl Who Got Lost Between The Covers', since our heroine Salander is present for only around twenty percent of its gigantic 750 pages. Without the benefit of the first two books this volume would be utterly bemusing. The scene-setting and recapping takes around three hundred pages - with Larsson introducing a seemingly endless cast list of spies, policemen and women, journalists and officials. For Swedish readers this may be more satisfying, since he appears to be fictionalising modern Swedish history through conspiracy. But for us it is largely bewildering.
And how we miss Salander. Such is the power of this fictional creation that during her brief appearances the book roars back into life. Sadly however she doesn't become the central figure again until around 600 pages in - and it is only then that the book truly becomes a page turner. Happily Larsson recaptures the vulnerable, complex Salander of the first volume, and again makes this dysfunctional Aspergers girl compelling and adorable.
But while we wait for Salander, and the book, to capture us again, Larson actually creates two further ballsy female characters, one of which proves the love interest for Larsson's alter-ego, Mikael Blomkvist. Larsson attempts to give levity to this approach by dropping in occasional and flimsy one page factual interludes about the role of the female warrior in history. It's a creaky device - and he needn't have bothered. The fact is, it's refreshing to have strong women at the centre of a thriller, and there is no doubting Larsson's ability to create powerful female characters.
Most Amazon reviews are ecstatic - but that must surely be a measure of the power and originality of this trilogy, and not of this book. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest would have made little impact had it had been the first in the series; and if looked at on its merits it makes an adequate but ultimately disappointing last.
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