144 – Monday 24 May 2010 : the girl who …

In Reading on May 25, 2010 by Gabor

I have just finished The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, the third in the Millennium trilogy of novels by Stieg Larsson. Most of the reviewers on Amazon give this 5 stars. I do not, 4 stars at best, possibly only 3.

There is no doubt that in these three novels Larsson tells some pretty powerful stories. In the first one, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, we are introduced to the main characters and particularly Michael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander as they investigate a 40 year old mystery in the wealthy Vanger family, uncovering some nasty crimes in the process. The second novel, The Girl Who Played with Fire, starts with crimes that we expect that Blomkvist and Salander will work on and solve, but the book ends up being largely about Salander herself and the unravelling of some crazy and scary events around her. This third novel complete her story. This is not part of my criticism, but neither the second nor the third novels can be read in isolation.

My complaints about this book are all tied up with it being too long. It is about 750 pages. It could do with some serious editing. Stieg Larsson spends too long setting the scene and introducing characters. There is a time-consuming and ultimately unnecessary subplot: I had assumed that the poaching of Erica Berger from her role as editor in chief of Millennium magazine was going to turn out to be part of some cunning plan to compromise her and undermine the magazine. But no, this was just a sideshow that added nothing to the main story.

I suppose that I was disappointed that Lisbeth Salander herself and featured relatively little in the book.

All the way through, I had the feeling of a lot of loose ends being tied up. This is what made the last two Harry Potter novels rather unsatisfactory.

Many people have said that this is the best novel in the trilogy. Funnily enough, I preferred the first, and also the second. Maybe this third one was far too ambitious in scope. We recently saw the film of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (see post 87), which we thought was excellent and very faithful to the novel. A fair amount of material that was not central to the main plot was not shown. I understand that the films of the second and third novels have already been made*, and presumably they will be released in the United Kingdom before long. My hope is that the quality of production that we saw in the first film will be maintained and that robust editing will see the films improve on the novels.

* I mean the Swedish movies, not the Hollywood remakes.


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