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Book Review: The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest

The third and final book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest, picks up right where The Girl Who Played With Fire left off. If you haven’t read part two, I won’t spoil it. Let’s just say that just about everyone is the worse for wear at the beginning of the finale.

There are certain things that you just don’t bounce back from right away, like axes in your head.

I loved this book. I absolutely loved it. I read it in one day, and there’s really only one reason: the “heroine,” Lisbeth Salander.

Salander, for me, is one of the the most fascinating characters in literature. For sheer can’t-look-away-ness, I put her right up there with Judge Holden and Ignatius J. Riley. Of course, lots of people hate those characters, so if you haven’t met them, please go read those books. Don’t take my word for it.

Not enough

My only real problem with Hornet’s NestLisbeth just isn’t in the book enough. She spends most of the book in the hospital, convalescing. Then she gets hurried into a courtroom where she just has to sit there. But of course, she never really just sits there.

The revenge that gradually spools out over the last 100 pages of the book was about as satisfying as it gets for this vengeance junkie. I don’t want her anywhere near me with a nail gun.

Not perfect, but so what?

As a recovering English major, I still fight the urge to poke holes in everything and roll my eyes at bad writing, even though my own writing is far, far from perfect. Stieg Larsson’s prose gets a little carried away at times, as Michael Newman from Slate noted recently.

In this book, as with the other two, I also think there’s an inordinate amount of time spent talking about who’s sleeping with who. It didn’t bother me, I just wasn’t sure why it was there. It was brought up frequently enough to seem like an important plot point, but it wasn’t. It just gets mentioned a lot. Oh, and there are plenty of Macbooks, apparently the weapon of choice for journalists and hackers. So if you aren’t an Apple fan, steer clear of Larsson.

But even though I think Newman is right, I don’t care. I had as much fun reading this trilogy as I ever have with a series. I’m sad that Larsson is gone and I really hope that nobody else tries to take a crack at bringing Lisbeth back.

So: have you read it? Did you love it? Hate it? Seen the movie?

Josh

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ivana Sendecka June 22, 2010, 4:09 am

    Hi Josh! 😉

    I have been inspired by you to read the 1st part of Larsson’s trilogy and then I got simply hooked up. At the moment I am reading second half of the last part and I do not regret at all to get into the flow with events around heroin Salander.

    Movies are already on the waiting list to be watched as soon as I will finish Salander’s fight for justice.

    Thank you for all the great work you do, Josh!
    cheers from Slovakia
    i.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 22, 2010, 12:24 pm

      Thanks Ivana. Let me know what you think of the others when you’re done.

      • Ivana Sendecka June 29, 2010, 11:57 am

        Hi Josh,
        so I have finished all 3 books now and I really do not regret a minute spent with Salander;-)
        I loved it!
        I cannot wait to watch movies, now. But usually movies are never close to be as good as books;-)
        Thanks again for inspiring me to pick up the first part of the trilogy, rest was simply a natural must read master piece by Larsson;-)

        • Josh Hanagarne June 29, 2010, 12:44 pm

          You’re welcome. That’s some fast reading!

          • Ivana Sendecka June 29, 2010, 12:49 pm

            When I have been writing comment on this post, I was cracking down second half of The Girl Who Kicked Hornet’s Nest. But I have started with first part (Girl With The Dragon Tatoo) the same time when you have posted it. I cannot beat your reading speed by no means, more over I am not native english speaker;-) But doing my best to feed my soul;-)

  • ami June 22, 2010, 9:10 am

    I read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (after winning it in one of the promo contests!) and I agree with you. Larsson writes well, the storyline intrigues, and I loved Lisbeth Salander as a character. Tho’ if she were more buff (or maybe I should say if she were at all buff) she’d be a comic book heroine. I also thought the hook-up details added little to the plot – but they didn’t take away enough to make me dislike it. Very interested to see if the movie lives up to the book’s promise.

    If you say the 2nd and 3rd are as good as the 1st, I’m gonna read them.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 22, 2010, 12:24 pm

      Yeah, I think making her physically imposing at all would have detracted enormously. There was something very appealing about a tiny woman dealing out extreme justice to giant bad men without so much as an expression on her face.

  • Lynn Kilpatrick June 22, 2010, 12:19 pm

    I’ve read the first 2. And those were my exact complaints. What’s with the Apple product placement? And why so much info on sex? I too kept wondering when it would be relevant to the plot.
    I look forward to this book. I haven’t seen the movie, but I plan on it. I agree about Lisbeth too. She’s a great, fascinating, complex character. And I liked the 2nd book best, because it was mostly her. So I might not like the 3rd so much, if she’s not in it enough. But I’m still going to read it.
    Thanks for the review.

    • Josh Hanagarne June 22, 2010, 12:22 pm

      Lynn, I saw that they’re already planning an American remake of the first film, which I have mixed feelings about.

  • Gina June 22, 2010, 10:33 pm

    I just finished the 2nd book and am debating about the 3rd. I’ve read mixed reviews. I am intrigued by Salander and I find her attractive and repulsive at the same time. Sometimes I think the writing is too disturbing. While I enjoyed the books, I hesitate to recommend them to my more conservative (not the Republican use of the word 😉 ) friends.

  • Bill Jones June 23, 2010, 2:03 pm

    Interesting how this pops up in my life. Just saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 3 days ago (actually I read/watched the movie).

    Thought it was excellent…enough to go buy the book. People asked me why I wanted the book as had I already seen the movie…people forget books are usually better than the movies.

    So got Part 1 and 2 yesterday. I’ll pick up 3 in a few. Of course this means that the BJ Penn book will gather some dust over the next week…

    By the way maybe you should interview Lisbeth…

    • Josh Hanagarne June 23, 2010, 5:31 pm

      Glad to hear it. I want to see it. I probably should interview Lisbeth…

  • Daisy June 23, 2010, 6:36 pm

    Yes, “interview” Lisbeth — but make sure your firewalls are in place first!

    I have the second on my wish list at Paperbackswap; now I’ll look for the third. I insist on reading them in order, though. I’ll buy them, used or new, if necessary.

  • Amanda June 24, 2010, 1:05 am

    I haven’t read these books yet, but I plan to later this year.

    What I did really like -and I totally sympathize with you Josh- is that you allowed yourself to enjoy the books rather than pick holes in the writing.

    I too come from a highly critical academic background (anthropology), where one is trained to pick over the entrails of every last semicolon and half-nuanced semantic. Yet sometimes, the ideas, the plot and accessible writing can make up for and even surpass what others claim to be brilliant writing.

    One of the worst books I have ever read was a Booker Prize winner that had masterful writing, but a story so poor and characters that made you want to slash your wrists.

    Give me something fun that encourages a little self-indulgent escapism into the imagination anyday!

    And as always, keep writing your stuff! I might not comment very often, but I am a reader and RSS subscriber

    • Josh Hanagarne June 24, 2010, 2:10 pm

      I don’t consider myself to be much of a grown up, but it was a big shift for me when I said, “I can hold on to my critical temperament but still just shut up and enjoy it.” Once I got over the insecurity of needing everyone else to like what I liked, I had a lot more peace of mind.

  • April September 27, 2010, 5:46 pm

    Check out the trailer for ‘The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest’ here: http://bit.ly/aQywG6

  • Will August 29, 2011, 10:31 pm

    These books got me back into reading fiction. I just couldn’t put the book down for hours at a time (cliche I know, but it was true).

    Can anyone recommend similar thriller/mystery reading (but ideally with less sex)?