The final installment of the Millenium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson began where The Girl Who Played With Fire ended — with Lisbeth Salander in the hospital and near-death with a bullet to the head. From there, the claws came out as everyone in Lisbeth’s life joined to her cause.
A familiar evil lies in wait for Lisbeth Salander, but this time, she must do more than confront the miscreants of her past–she must destroy them. As The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest opens, Lisbeth is under close supervision in the intensive care unit of a provincial Swedish city hospital. And she’s fighting for her life in more ways than one: when she’s well enough, she’ll be taken back to Stockholm to stand trial for a triple murder. Much to her chagrin, survival requires her to place a great deal of faith in journalist Mikael Blomkvist and trust his judgment when the stakes are highest. To reveal more of the plot would be criminal, as Larsson’s mastery of the unexpected is why millions have fallen hard for his work.
From the English publisher, Penguin Canada
I had a difficult time getting into the book. I’m not sure if it was just because it smelled (the previous owner was a smoker) or if it was something else. I think it was the fact that Lisbeth was so helpless while under arrest at the hospital. She had no weapons, no way to fight back, and barely trusted those who were in her corner. A lot of the first part of the book focused on three distinct groups: the Security Police, the ‘Zalchenko club’, and Blomkvist and the Millennium crew. I’ve loved Lisbeth from the beginning — she is unique, strong, independent, and a little weird.
At about halfway, Blomkvist manages to get Lisbeth some of her power back and she begins to plot and plan. I loved that Armansky did everything he could, but I wish he’d played a bit bigger role. I think he’s really great. I liked all the new blood in the book — I think this was a huge strength and Larsson integrated the new characters well. Sometimes by the third book in a trilogy, you know all the characters so well that you can predict their actions and are bored by their repeatative thoughts.
I haven’t really liked Blomkvist at all — he’s such a selfish person while appearing to go out of the way for others. At one point in the first 100 pages, he reflects that it’s going to be a long story and that he can’t wait to get to the bottom of it and rip into them. He is always interested in the story and how it can assist his career as a journalist.
The whole thing really picked up for me when the trial started and Annika Gianni, Blomkvist’s sister and Lisbeth’s lawyer, ripped into all of Lisbeth’s enemies. I had been a bit confused with all of the double-crossing and red herrings. The Section was certainly interesting in the beginning, bit I’m glad that Larsson left them to their own devices for most of the book. I think it was a neat twist that Sapo and Blomkvist started working together.
As for the quality of writing, it’s really the storytelling that Larsson is skilled at. The prose is fast-paced and the narrator sees and tells just enough to keep you hooked. I’ve read articles that suggest that Larsson had at least ten books planned for the Millennium series. But with the conclusion of this book, unless the following ones were to move away from Blomkvist and focus on Lisbeth’s future more, I’m not sure they would be as successful. The only loose end I can think of is Lisbeth’s twin sister: Camilla Salander. I would be interested to know what happened to her. (No spoilers there — we learn absolutely nothing about Camilla).
**END SPOILER ALERT**
On a side note, I’m not sure I like the title. The first book’s English title was good — The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo — as we first met Lisbeth and she (surprise!) had a dragon tattoo. The second title, The Girl Who Played With Fire, refers to Lisbeth’s attack on her father when she was a teen, and the book examines everything that occured after that incident in 1991. This title, doesn’t make sense to me, but according to a Globe and Mail article, the novel’s original title in Swedish was “Luftslottet som sprängdes”. It translates as “The Castle in the Air That was Blown Up” and “castle in the air” roughly translates to “pipe dream” in English. In the article, the Globe and Mail emailed a Swedish language consult who replied:
“When Swedes use the word Luftslott, they are referring to a home, a company or a project that is based on unrealistic expectations, like a dream home, etc. It can also refer to creating organizations with high-flying plans. … Based on descriptions of the book, I sense the Swedish title may be referring to Säpo, the Swedish Secret Police. Some people may argue that secret service organizations are luftslott. “