Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest

As much an intellectual thriller as it is a mystery or crime novel, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest will keep you riveted until the last page, whether you like it or not. Once the book is over, you'll be glad that it is over & while you're reading it, you won't be able to stop. 

The third book in the Millennium series by Stieg Larsson, starts off somewhat methodically, if not slowly, as it winds its way through the various aspects of the Swedish CIA (Sapo/SSA/The Firm/The Section/etc). We are given characters to hate and characters to respect on varying levels, and the whole while we are left to unravel the motives and figure out how Salander, Blomqvist and friends will get the upper hand. If you've not read the first two books, start with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, as you will want the back story.  It may be advisable to go back and re-read the second novel, The Girl Who Played with Fire, if it's been awhile since you've read it, as Larsson jumps right in where he left off.

Larsson pulls us into this story to experience the frustrating, arrogant, ignorant, and subsequently infuriating sides of a political machine that when allowed to run unchecked over-indulges its sense of power. This is not a new formula or even a new fear, but it plays itself out well enough to keep us interested in the story. 

Through Larsson's writing we become another advocate, in an ever growing list of advocates, for our heroine Lisbeth Salander, who is suffering the wrath of this over-indulgence. Of course, some of the tactics Larsson uses to pull us into that story could be considered a bit far fetched, but we choose to believe. We choose to believe that Lisbeth Salander is spiteful enough to survive a bullet to the head and come out not much less the worse for wear. We believe that the arrogance and intellect of Mikael Blomqvist will allow him to out think the legal system, the politicians, and every bad guy he comes across. We believe that the SSA, Niedermann, and Teleborian are the evil, seemingly unbeatable nemeses. We do this because we are each of these characters. We are the struggles they represent. And through reading this book, we get to pretend to play out those struggles. A true catharsis. 

If you've not read the first books, be warned, they are dark (& the movies are fairly true to the books, less some story lines), but they are well worth the read.

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