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177 of 200 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A page turner - after 600 pages, 14 May 2010
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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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Comments

Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 17 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Jun 2010 10:58:55 BDT
David Clare says:
Thats a very thorough review, but as somebody who was given this book to read without having read the first two books in the trilogy I would have to disagree. Correct me If I'm worng but I assume that you read this book last, and therefore had a different perspective on it to anybody who reads it first.

Without the background from the prior books I still found this an extremely compelling read, and since I didn't know anything of Salander's character in previous adventures I didn't miss it. Maybe it isn't the best of the three, and I look forward to finding out for myself, but I would contest most of your second paragraph. I did not find the beginning bemusing at all, sure there were a hell of a lot of character introductions but I managed just fine without any background knowledge.

That said, given the choice I would probably have begun with the first in the trilogy, that just makes sense. But if it turns out that I started out with the worst of the three and still loved it as much as I did, I can't wait to read the others and I might even finish the series on a high, which sadly it seems you have not.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 Aug 2010 15:47:08 BDT
Ruby Slave says:
I did actually read read all the books in the right order and thoroughly enjoyed books one and two, but thought book three was outstanding. I couldn't put it down - best book I've read in years!

Posted on 1 Oct 2010 14:29:22 BDT
Green_Eyes says:
I'm about 3/4 of the way through and thought I'd look at reviews on Amazon to check I wasn't alone in my view thus far...

I totally agree with your review. The first two books were fantastic and compelling reads, with the heroine Lisbeth Salander a unique and fascinating character. The fact that she is confined to a hospital bed for most of this one doesn't help at all. Like you, I am finding the endless cast of spies and government officials bewildering, confusing and boring - none of them are bold characters so they all seem to merge into one. I also think this book alienates anyone who does not know anything about Swedish history and politics. Disappointed so far but will persevere before rating it myself...

In reply to an earlier post on 2 Oct 2010 09:57:05 BDT
M. Harrison says:
Hang in there - you are about to get your reward! The last part of the book is far better.

Posted on 1 Feb 2011 19:42:41 GMT
I couldn't agree more with the above review. I found it very hard going and spent a lot of time skimming through facts that did not take the plot any further forward.

Posted on 12 Feb 2011 13:33:34 GMT
yossell says:
Completely agree with your review - 3/4 of the way through and it's so far incredibly dull and has none of the virtues that made the other two episodes worth reading. All the five star raves were making me question my sanity - so thanks for this.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Mar 2011 05:46:42 GMT
Penn says:
I agree. If I had bought the paperback version, it would have been used as a firelighter by now. As I have the electronic version, I shll perservere beyond the half-way point to see if the re-appearance of Salander and her computer expertise makes the book worthwhile. There was a point at which I thought I would throw the iPad out of the window if yet another detailed character were to be introduced. The first two books were, in my opinion, far better.

In reply to an earlier post on 7 Mar 2011 07:54:36 GMT
M. Harrison says:
I sympathise - and I know that feeling of watching the % tick up at the bottom of the ipad page and praying for a book to take off. You might need to get to more like 80 or 90% before this one comes to life though I'm afraid.

Posted on 29 May 2011 11:03:52 BDT
I couldn't agree more. I have loved the trilogy and raced through this to get to Salander, but at the end found I had read 100s of pages about some history of the Swedish police and little about Salander - though when she does get into gear she is as great as ever. The ending was a disappointment - and somehow the plot seemed so predictable. The only real surprise was the identity of the Poison Pen at the SMP newspaper, but that storyline was completely irrelevant.

In reply to an earlier post on 22 Aug 2011 14:49:00 BDT
Helot says:
That's what I thought too. I've read elsewhere that this book wasn't edited when Larsson died, so it might be a case of over-reverent lack of editing. I also think that making Dr Teloborian such a cardboard villain with a big stash of child porn on his hard drive was a lazy plot device. It's unlikely that if he were such a raving predator that he would have attacked other young people, yet he apparently had excellent recommendations.
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