This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Friday, December 31, 2010

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

This is the last novel in Larsson's Millennium Trilogy although I believe there will actually be a fourth novel. Larsson died while writing the fourth novel so I would guess that there will be a fourth, which will be something I would look forward to reading.

The series of novels really flowed well together. This last one chronicles Lisbeth's recovery from three gunshot wounds, one in her head, by her half-brother, a Goliath of a man who buried her alive.

What is truly amazing about this particular novel is the legal case that builds up against Lisbeth's violators: a child-porn sicko psychiatrist (Telaborian), the "Section" of secret police that did what they could to 'put away' Lisbeth, to cover up their alliance with the ex-Soviet spy, and Lisbeth's father, Zalachenko.

The readers know the story. We know that Mikael Blomkvist, one of the main characters throughout the series, investigates and discovers the truth behind Lisbeth's tormented life: she watched her mother get beat into a vegetative state by Zalachenko, she set Zalachenko on fire (he survived), Zalachenko was a protected Russian ex-spy by SAPO, Lisbeth was sent to a psychiatric ward (at age 12), she was sexually and physically abused by a pedophile psychiatrist working with SAPO.

SAPO, well, the "Section" of SAPO that was protecting Zalachenko, started to conspire once again to protect Zalachenko's involvement with them, especially since they operated outside of the legal means that Sweden has in place. So in this novel, the case against the Section builds, as well as the case the Section has against Lisbeth.

It is fascinating because for most of the novel, I was so worried about Lisbeth going back to Teleborian. But the reader KNOWS that Lisbeth has many allies: Blomkvist has made sure that many important people know what is taking place. So it's very interesting to see the parallels between what the Section is trying to do and what Blomkvist is doing.

There is a lot of action, tension, and relief. When the trial comes into play, I wanted to scream with vengeance...the build up is written brilliantly. An amazing feat since the reader pretty much has the case laid out before the we know what is going to happen...and to be able to bring that kind of excitement out in a novel, vs. seeing it in a movie, is pretty brilliant.

Lisbeth is one of the most amazing characters ever created. I love how brilliant she is...this non-emotional person (she has asperger's) who kicks ass at, not only hacking computers, but actually kicking ass. She is a character outlined as being about 4'11" and 80-something pounds, full of tattoos and piercings...but a doll-like look...yet she has the ingenuity of a Russian spy, getting out of precarious situations with her lithe, scheming skills.

I will miss these characters but hopefully, Larsson's legacy isn't over.

The story behind this series is pretty amazing too. The first novel is actually titled (in Sweden) as Men Who Hate Women and throughout the novel, we meet men who do hate women. They think of them as second-class citizens with no intelligence. If they have sex with more than one man, or with a woman, they are essentially whores. The fascinating thing is that Larsson creates only strong women characters - every single woman he introduces in the books are smart and physically adept, despite the fact that they may be surrounded by misogynists.

And one more tidbit: the character Lisbeth was named after a girl that Larsson (in real life) witnessed get gang-raped. It seemed to do something to him that made him write such amazing women characters. Shame that I couldn't know of him while he was alive but I am proud for his legacy to live on...

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