The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

By Stieg Larsson

Surmounting all odds, Lisbeth Salander is still alive. However, the matter of removing the bullet lodged in her brain has reached a critical stage. Unconscious and still covered in the dirt of the makeshift grave her father buried her in, Dr. Jonasson must work to save Salander’s life regardless of her criminal status. The police waste no time in placing her in custody from the confines of her hospital bed even as she fights for her life.

Mikael Blomkvist finds himself in an all-new battle for Lisbeth’s freedom when he realizes that unseen government forces are determined to bury Salander in a different way, within the confines of a psychiatric institution. Resolved to politically hang the people responsible for the horrors Salander faced as a child, Mikael must find the evidence that will refute all doubt of her innocence. However, he soon realizes that he is being watched and that the people who want to destroy Salander are not above murder to accomplish their goals.

I want to give credit to Larsson on his ability to juggle a lot of moving parts. He somehow managed to cram a full-on government conspiracy, a trial, and details of the characters’ personal lives into one book while making it all coherent. That’s a sign of great writing. However, there are a significant number of people, places, and events to keep track of in this 818-page book. The whole story is, at times, convoluted (which I suppose you would expect from a government conspiracy) but still believable.

I also enjoy how each book feels like it has it’s own theme. The first book is a murder-mystery, the second is a manhunt, and the third is, as I stated, a government conspiracy. Each is great in it’s own way, but I would say The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest has a lot more going for it than just the ending. The endings are always the best part because that’s when Larsson does his big reveals, but this novel actually gives you everything you want to know throughout the story. You hold all of the cards along with the main characters. The reveal has more to do with how the information is presented rather than what the information actually is, and I enjoyed that because I felt like I was in on the joke.

Here are my small quibbles.

I truly do not think it’s a spoiler to say that Lisbeth Salander is incredibly lucky to survive being shot in the head with no real lasting effects. Do you really think that Stieg Larsson is going to kill off the main character at the beginning of the third book? Unlikely. Do you think maybe she would lose some of her intelligence and math skill which are the central parts of her character and what makes her special? Knowing how these books go, doubt it. Everything is always a little too…convenient. Don’t get me wrong; I could not be happier that she is okay. She is a character I came to love immediately because of her eccentricity and intelligence. I want her to keep her photographic memory, but let’s think about this for a second…she was shot in the head!

There are also, in my humble opinion, a lot of people in this story that somehow manage to keep a secret. Glad Larsson writes so many characters as trustworthy, but there isn’t a single mole. That’s also not a spoiler. There is not one time in this book when you wonder about the credibility of any of the characters who know Salander’s story. They are all determined to keep information about her quiet. I guess I just find that really surprising because gossip is like a disease. It infects and spreads to everything it touches, and the idea of writing genuine characters not out for their own interests seems almost too good to be true. Look at what happened to Salander’s reputation in the second book. I like that the author writes good characters, but would that happen in real life? No idea.

Lastly, I know that Larsson had a successor to his series to carry the torch, but I almost don’t want to read the next book. I own a copy, so I will get to it eventually. But it’s hard for me to imagine someone else taking Lisbeth on an adventure when Larsson so clearly knows how to finish a trilogy. I guess I will see how I like it when I get to it.

Overall rating: 4

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