Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

Plot Summary: Picking up moments after the climactic ending in book two, "The Girl Who Played With Fire," Lisbeth Salander is rushed to the E.R. after taking three bullets, and Mikael Blomkvist is left to pick up the pieces. As Lisbeth lies in the hospital her enemies plot to have her locked away forever, and they begin to tie up loose ends with single-minded self-preservation. There is so much going on it's kind of mind-boggling, but Stieg Larsson keeps the reader sucked in every step of the way.

I was about 60 pages into "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" when I had this sudden image of a plate spinner. You know those circus acts where somebody spins a plate on a wire rod? The amazement comes as more and more plates are added, until an impossible number of plates are spinning away, but they're never allowed to drop. That's how I feel about this story. Stieg Larsson kept an amazing number of subplots spinning throughout this complex story about cover ups, murder, espionage, and friendship. It is so well done. I'm in awe, and I'm also in mourning because this book marks the end of the stories about Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander.

This book is big (576 pages), bold, and twisty like a corkscrew. One of the things I like best about Stieg Larsson's series is that he doesn't save all the surprises for the end either. There's a a really good shock within the first 100 pages or so, and the end floored me too. The courtroom drama had me reading on the edge of my chair, and I was practically doing fist-pumps in the air.

I am having a love affair with Lisbeth Salander, and she managed to be as interesting as ever, even while laying in a hospital bed. She's one of my all-time favorite characters, and it's funny because she's not easy to like at all. Lisbeth thaws a little here, and she accepts help from several quarters, which is good, because she has a rogue government agency gunning for her. She's an inconvenient witness and losing her case has bigger consequences than just going to jail - `they' want to lock her up in a mental institution. Frankly, I was terrified for her.

I highly recommend the Millennium series for fans who want an intelligent, gritty, dense web of intrigue that spans across three stellar books. "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" has been available overseas for eons now (okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration), but for U.S. readers, this book will be released on May 25, 2010. To start at the beginning read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Vintage), and then by Stieg Larsson The Girl Who Played with Fire 1 edition.

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