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Monday, August 30, 2010

Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is the last book in Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy . The previous books in the series The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire were previously reviewed here. This book cannot stand alone, and should be read after the previous title in the series. It also kept me up late last night reading, which is something that a book hasn't done to me in a while.

With this novel Larsson does not set up a mystery at all. This is a thriller through and through. The enemy this time is a government secret agency that covered up certain events in the past, leading to the events in the previous book. Many have referred to this book as redefining the entire series as a feminist trilogy, and I can see where they are coming from. The author makes use of many quotes in the book, and it is clear where his sympathy lies. Yet unlike other books of this nature the plot, story, and characters do not merely serve to deliver the message. There are many men who are sympathetic characters, and the villains, while coming across as evil, aren't caricatures. The novel moves at a fast pace after setup: there's no exposition explaining the characters or the situation, as you are expected to have come off the previous novel directly.

As a techie, the book is a lot of fun, with constant name drops of model numbers and brand names, almost to the point where I wonder whether Apple and Palm managed to get product placement in the novel by paying Larsson. There are a few places where I thought the depiction was unrealistic, but hey, it's fiction.

Larsson died almost immediately after delivering the manuscripts, and one can't help but wonder if he had known it was coming: all the loose ends are tied up very very neatly, and all the characters reach a resolution with regards to their personal lives, even in places where I thought a little bit of mystery would have been better. All in all, I enjoyed this at least as much as any LeCarre I've read, and the prose is quite a bit less dense, so I have to recommend it.

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