Thursday, July 22, 2010

Book Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium, #3)The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I finished this late last night, both relieved to be done with the series (so I can get other things done in my life) and sad to say goodbye to Lisbeth Salander forever (unless Larsson's lover really does have a partially finished fourth manuscript).

Like the others in the series, this book has its flaws:

*Too many characters

*Too many unnecessary details (Larsson classically flunks the "show, don't tell" school of writing)

*Too many subplots

*Too many implausible plot points (most implausible: what hospital would house two people who tried to kill each other two rooms away from each other, without ANY police security?)

*Yet again, too much coffee and sandwiches (although slightly less than Book #2)

*Not enough Salander

*What the heck happened to Blomvkist's daughter???

And yet, despite its flaws, I couldn't put it down. I liked the facts about female warriors between each section (versus the math equations in Book #2!) and the parallels he drove with these historical warriors and the ones in the book. This series--more than most thrillers or mysteries--contains tons of strong (both intellectually and physically), independent women. I love that.

Book #3 doesn't have as much suspense as the other two...it's more of a legal thriller. Larsson's knowledge of the Swedish political system is amazing. Clearly, he was a stellar researcher and his journalist roots show heavily in his novels.

I'm convinced that Larsson would have proudly described himself as a feminist, because he does show a great deal of respect for his female characters. (If only he hadn't created a middle-aged male lead who was magnetically sexually attractive to every woman he met, leading to constant jealousy...talk about a classic male fantasy.) Sometimes the villains are a bit too villainous...take for example the vast number of bad guys who were perverts in addition to being otherwise evil.

The best thing about these books for me is survivor Lisbeth Salander: complex, quirky, insanely bright, strong, sensitive, and deeply damaged. The Millennium books are the types that don't leave you when you've put them down--they stay in your brain while you go about your daily business. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, while somewhat flawed, was a highly satisfying end to the series.

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