Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson (audio)

Book Description:
Salander is plotting her revenge - against the man who tried to kill her, and against the government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life. But it is not going to be a straightforward campaign. After taking a bullet to the head, Salander is under close supervision in Intensive Care, and is set to face trial for three murders and one attempted murder on her eventual release. With the help of journalist Mikael Blomkvist and his researchers at Millennium magazine, Salander must not only prove her innocence, but identify and denounce the corrupt politicians that have allowed the vulnerable to become victims of abuse and violence. Once a victim herself, Salander is now ready to fight back.
Third and last of the Millenium Series by the late Stieg Larsson, this was a bittersweet read, it was great to read on about Salander and Blomkvist, but I was sad to know this is the end and no more books will be forthcoming (despite the legal wranglings of the author's estate and rights of a fourth book or outline for one found on his computer.)  I loved the series as a whole and this book, albeit not originally intended as the last in the series, (there were ten books planned), did give the series some closure.  Hornet's Nest was a direct continuation of the second book, The Girl Who Played with Fire. It's almost as if they were both originally written as one long book and then divided into two.  Here we pick up directly after the cliffhanger of book two with Lizbeth in the hospital, rescued by Blomkvist.  Lizbeth is a survivor, so we are all assured she is going to recover from the bullet wound to her head, but will she be done in by her own father?  Or maybe by "the Section" a covert group of men one would expect from a Cold War spy novel?  "The Section" is so secret, only a handful of people in the Swedish government know of its existence.  They have their hands in various parts of the puzzle that Blomkvist begins to solve in book two and now wants to expose and write about in book three.  Lizbeth is personally involved, for it's her story he will write about, beginning with her troubled childhood, institutionalized at the age of twelve (unjustly) and then a ward of the government with no say in her own rights, assigned guardians to manage her affairs - all under the assumption that she is not in her right mind. Her civil rights were grossly violated over and over again and Blomvkist is determined to publish her story in Millenium, the magazine he runs.
I'm getting ahead of myself, there is a lot to this story and if you haven't read book two, you'll be lost in book three.  It also helps if you are computer literate and up on the Internet ins and outs.  For instance, my eighty-something year old mother began reading this series, a lover of mystery thrillers.  She was lost in regard to the extensive computer details of hacking, internet use, transfer of files, uploading, downloading - you name it - it all went over her head and she put the book down unfinished.  These books are addictive and great, but heavy on high tech gadgetry. One little pet peeve I had with them was the blatant product placement name dropping.  I do wonder if Larsson wrote them this way with the constant product placement or was that the publisher's doing?  How many times did I read about the use of Apple ibooks?  It's fine to read about the brand occasionally, but in this entire series it's drummed into the readers heads - Apple, Apple, Apple!  Okay already, I get it!  Everyone in Sweden has an iBook!  Sheesh! 
The basic gist of the story is Lizbeth Salander gets her day in court and almost the entire book leads up to the penultimate legal showdown, which I consider a tour de force.  Accused of three murders, she's going to go to trial for them.  Lizbeth is one tough cookie, amazingly resourceful and brilliant she has her own agenda for getting revenge for the sh*t that has happened in her life.  As the book progresses, her lawyer (Blomkvist's sister) is trying to prepare her defense, but it's not easy, for the enigmatic Salander will barely tell her anything, suspicious of everyone who purports to want to help her-she has good reason.  Eventually she writes her life story up surreptitiously with her Palm that is cleverly secreted to her in the hospital.  More murders, plot twists, surprises and bravo moments (particularly in the court room showdown regarding her despicable former psychiatrist) brings the series to a close.  All the murky details of "the section" are exhaustively revealed including the evil machinations and orchestration of the enormous cover up responsible for the abuses dealt to Salander for most of her life.  Whereas the first two books had a great deal of action and thriller tense moments, this book concentrates more on revealing the illegal goings on of the covert government organization.  Even so, there were still many exciting, nail biting moments, particularly involving Erica Berger, who finds herself the target of a disgruntled employee while at her new job as editor in chief of a conservative newspaper and Lizbeth's final showdown with her super-human fearsome brother.
I'm being deliberately vague with a lot of the details in the book, for I don't want to spoil it for those of you that haven't read it yet.  Take my word for it, this is a worthwhile series, and I give it 5 stars overall if you are into contemporary high tech thrillers with a strong and highly unusual heroine.  Mikael Blomkvist, her white knight is also good, though I did roll my eyes several times throughout the series at the way every woman who meets this middle aged, slightly paunchy guy wants to jump into bed with him!  Over and over another beautfiul woman propositions him out of the blue and then can't get enough of him! It was kind of laughable but entertaining and gave the books a sort of endearing quality to them.  What is it that Blomkvist's got?  All I can think of is, he must be pretty amazing in bed, although for a writer, Blomkvist isn't much of a  love talker, he's pretty straightforward and not all that romantic.  I couldn't help wondering is this just a Swedish thing or was this Larsson's own wishful fantasy? 
Enter the fray and public frenzy if you dare and read these books, I highly recommend them.  Hornet's Nest is a great wrap up, pulling it all together, though I enjoyed the first The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the most.  I've listened to all three on audio with Simon Vance narrating - his voice is perfect.  I think I'm in love with him now! ;) Salander is a memorable character, I'll miss her and wonder what Larsson had in mind for her future, I guess we'll never know, though my own personal feeling is I'd like to see her settle down one day with "that nice doctor" who removed the bullet from her head.  Who knows?
5/5 overall Millenium series

P.S. I just saw the movie today and it was great.  The actors were perfect, I loved it, faithful to the book and now I'm eager to see the next one when it opens later this month!


Danielle87 said...

I keep meaning to read 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' - but I'm kind of rebeling against the hype. *EVERYONE* has told me to read it, so I'm holding out :)
It'll probably be one of those books that when I *finally* do read it I'll kick myself for not picking it up sooner. Kind of what happened to me with 'Outlander'

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Danielle - don't listen to the hype, just read it if you feel like it. It's a really interesting thriller series, and the heroine is so different and strong yet vulnerable - it's original and hard to put down. You'll see what I mean. They're calling it the Harry Potter for adults with all they frenzy surrounding it.

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