Monday, October 11, 2010

REVIEW: The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, Stieg Larsson

*Some spoilers for the first two books herein*

The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest
is the final installment of the Millenium trilogy, Stieg Larsson's worldwide best-selling tale of violence, fascism and journalism in the IKEA capital of the world. At the cliffhanger conclusion of The Girl who Played with Fire, Lisbeth Salander was left for dead by her father, defected KGB agent Alexander Zalachenko, with a bullet in her brain and found at the eleventh hour by her sometime lover, journalist Mikael Blomkvist.

Books one and two in this series I loved despite their slow beginnings and preoccupation with Blomkvist's sexual adventures. Oh, normally I find these things quite interesting, but when the story itself hasn't yet got going, being informed that Erika Berger's husband is a little bit gay seems rather far from the point. There is a moment in Larsson's books, however, where everything explodes with a mighty big bang and the story starts to happen. It's in this moment that I forgive any and all of Larsson's indulges and would throw a mighty big tantrum if anyone tried to take the book away from me.

The Girl who Kicked the Hornets' Nest does not suffer from a slow beginning. Larsson has 600 pages to dig Salander out of a constitutional mess of espionage, cover-ups, corrupt secret police and evil psychiatrists and has little time to waste. But Salander has Blomkvist on her side, crusading journalist extraordinaire. And this is what endears this series to me so much: the hero is a writer. I could read about Writers Doing Cool Things all day.

The Millennium series is pure entertainment. I have been raving about these books to my friends, mostly because they are so entertaining. There aren't many books I have enjoyed more this year. The other reason is that my friends' eyes tend to glaze over when I go on about the apocalypse, zombies or (brace yourself) books for teenagers. This is a series they will actually read upon my recommendation. Oh happy days.

But the Millennium series has also made me rather miserable. I wept buckets at the of Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness, but I have his next book to look forward to. Larrson died in 2006, shortly before The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was published. There has been speculation that he was offed by the secret police he so roundly denounces in his books, but the truth is far more mundane: a heart attack. According to his discoverer in English, “Sixty cigarettes a day, plus tremendous amounts of junk food and coffee and an enormous workload would be the culprit. I gather he’d even had a warning heart murmur." I was rather miserable for days after finishing the last book, and though there are rumours of a fourth (which is actually the fifth) I don't hold much hope for it being particularly satisfying. It's gone from "the outlines and initial scribblings of a fourth" in October 2009 to "nearly finished" according to Larsson's family in this article published this weekend, which is perhaps Larsson's most astounding feat yet.

No comments:

Post a Comment