Thursday, January 5, 2012

#1 (2012-cbriv) "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" by Stieg Larsson

The second novel in this series left off [SPOILERS THROUGHOUT] with the main character finally in the custody of the police and her life hanging in the balance. I assumed the author wouldn't kill off his main character--at least before the end of the book, but I was concerned and interested in what would happen to Lisbeth Salander. So I got a hold of and read The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (2009) by Stieg Larsson much faster than I normally get to sequels.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is the last (apparently, unless they gather Larsson's notes together and create another) book in the Millenium series. The series features Lisbeth Salander, an anti-social computer genius who has been badly treated by most of the people in her life. I'm going to skip plot details since most people already know them, and at this point clarity would only really come with a synopsis of all three books. And I'm too lazy. Instead I will focus on why I ended up liking this series, despite my first impression.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was my least favorite book of this series. I think I've mentioned in other reviews that I almost didn't even bother with the second novel. I'm not sure if I had heard that Larsson was a feminist, but his feminism did not come across to me while I was reading that first book. Instead, it felt like it was written by someone who was glorifying violence against women. And allowing Lisbeth to "get back" at her guardian did not make it better and excuse all of the sexual violence--both the violence directed at Lisbeth as well as that directed against all of the women brutally murdered by the serial killer. I also wasn't thrilled with the serial killer murder mystery. There are a ton of mystery books featuring scary serial killers. Thus, I figured the only reason it had become so well known and popular was that people were intrigued by all the violence.

However, the second and third books I enjoyed much more. The story focused almost exclusively on Lisbeth's past and present. The books answered some lingering questions from the first book, better explained some of the violence in the first novel, and made Lisbeth a more compelling character. The second and third novels also expanded the scope of the series from a routine murder/mystery to one that explored issues of misogyny, violence against women, the power of the state, the role of the media, and the criminal justice system.

They were also fast and fun to read. I have heard complaints about Larsson going into too much detail, and I can see where that's coming from. However, I rarely got bored and the extensive background information gave the story more depth and meaning. It was also enjoyable to see Lisbeth actually rely on and work with other people. She was still similar to a superhero in her ability to gain the upper hand, both physically and mentally, against her opponents; but working together to take down a secret, corrupt government agency made for a fun read.

No comments: