Author: Stieg Larsson
Language: Translated to English from Swedish, in 2010
Genre: Crime, Mystery, Psychological Thriller
It’s over. I tried to read as slowly as I could to make it last longer, but I knew the book and the series would end. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest is the third instalment in the Millennium Series and the longest at a hefty 746 pages. I am so glad that I was able to buy the trilogy in one go because I wouldn’t have been able to contain my anxiety over how the second one ended – with a bullet lodged in Lisbeth Salander’s head.
Her life hanging in the balance wasn’t my concern as much her possible brain damage was. People have often wondered what happens to the brain, and all that we store in it, once we die or are severely injured; it obviously goes to waste in both cases, but the loss is stronger in the latter case as the person lives the rest of their life constantly reminded of it.
Salander is now one of my favourite characters I’ve ever met in a book. With her intellect and photographic memory, and the way she puts them to use, she shouldn’t be afraid of anything or anyone; what she embodies is almost a superpower, at least one that we are capable of having as humans. I can’t disclose her secrets, but you can read the books to find out.
The range of characters that Larsson has breathed life into is incredible. We have tendencies ranging from ruthless and sinister to crafty, perceptive and resolute. Some of the characters like Teleborian, the psychiatrist, Zalachenko, the defector and the root of all problems, and Niedermann, the freak of nature and Zalachenko’s muscle man, are definitely elevated versions of the scum that exists in the world, but they are believable even then. They make you want to stand by Blomkvist and the whole Swedish justice system.
It is a fact that Larsson used himself as a model for Blomkvist, but the other characters were born out of a lot of influences and ideas. I understand that each author has his sources of inspiration, but getting too deep into those aspects dulls his/her work, in my opinion.
The Millennium Series is a commentary on the state of the justice system and all that Larsson loathed in his personal and political life – racism, sexism and forms of abuse. The series includes an investigation into a deranged serial killer, sex trafficking and exposing a secret society within the Swedish Police. What I liked most about were the hard facts he inserted before each section in the books as a backdrop for what was to come next. His writing style was serious, structured and factual – reflective of his journalist tendencies. It could be an information overload for someone who is new to reading or someone who doesn’t have a strong memory, but there isn’t a need to worry because he reiterates the facts throughout the novels, which makes it easy to keep track of events and personalities.
I would like to give Monica Figuerola a shout-out – I wanted to wear her shoes for a while. She’s a headstrong cop with her ethics in place and she never hesitates to wave her opinion about like a huge red flag. She is unabashed and apologetic at the same time, which throws her personality in a spin. Erika Berger, Blomkvist’s on and off lover, colleague and an editor, is similar to Figuerola in her impulses and pitting them against each other was a clever way of bringing out Berger’s emotions.
There are stories we encounter where we hope for certain characters to come together towards the end and if they don’t, we hope that someday and somewhere in the fictional realm they do end up together. This wasn’t one of those stories. Though Blomkvist is attracted to Berger and Salander, and they to him, I never hoped for them to end up together. Again, I request you to read the series to find out what really happened, even though I would love to throw in a spoiler here.
Once again, I am allowing a discount in translation and then saying that the writing was engaging and maintained a superb pace. The instances where he provides facts and backgrounds are long-drawn, but they are crucial to the story because you never know what he alludes to later in the story. At times, these seemingly random facts contain clues to the upcoming events, so keep your eyes peeled when you are reading this one!
I shall definitely re-read this series at some other point in my life and I shall do so to relive the thrill of it all. If I ever meet people who are somewhat like the characters in the book, I shall send out a thank you to the universe for making it possible; I’ll just tell the people they remind me of someone, and they don’t need to know who.
When I started reading this book, I felt a sense of dread wondering if it would feel as if the series stopped abruptly, knowing well that there is no more to come from Larsson. It was nothing like that, much to my relief! It left me feeling peaceful and all the anxiety melted away. Endings like that are so much better than people floating off into the sunset or going back to ‘normal’ after a novelful (I invented this word right now, add it to your dictionary) of distress.
Do let me know if you give this series a go or have already read it and let me know what you think in the comments below. Thank you for reading and keep dreaming!
Reader. Learner. Dreamer.
I am all about the little things in life!