This novel not only puts the cap on the most eagerly read trilogy in years; the sequel to The Girl Who Played With Fire marks the completion of its Swedish author's career; Stieg Larsson died at the age of fifty in 2004. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is, however, too exciting and too adept to be read simply as a major author's memorial. From its onset, with "avenging angel" protagonist Lisbeth Salander lying in intensive care, this fiction pulses forward. One British critic called it "intricately plotted, lavishly detailed but written with a breakneck pace and verve...a tantalizing double finale;first idyllic, then frenetic."
I can't decide if I like The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo more from Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy. They were two different novels. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo had more action and suspense whereas The Girl who kicked the Hornet's Nest was more political intrigue and character-focused. The middle book, The Girl who Played with Fire, was a good book but really just set everything up for the third installment.
In The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, we find Lisbeth Salander, an anti-social girl with a horrible past that is coming back to haunt her, is in the hospital in critical condition- she's suffering from three gun shot wounds, one to her head. While Salander is locked in her hospital room, government and law enforcement officials and the media are scrambling to discover the truth about Salander. The people from Salander's past, meanwhile, are busy covering everything up... again.
Mikael Blomkvist, a top journalist and one of Salander's few friends, does everything he can to learn more about Salander and help her out- including figuring out how to get Salander to be able to help herself even while she's in a locked and guarded room.
One thing I loved most about The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest was the political intrigue. It was very interesting to learn more about the structure of the Swedish government. One aspect that I noted about my reaction to the political corruption though, was that because this was happening in a foreign country that I'm not familiar with, it was kind of like reading a fantasy book. Things can happen in fantasy but not in books about our real lives because as readers, we're a step removed from the location, and therefore the characters. I think if The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest took place in the U.S., or even a country that I know more about, I would have had a stronger reaction to Lisbeth's treatment because that would have meant that it could happen here... not just in a place that I will probably never visit. (I hope my connection to the fantasy genre and my reaction analysis made sense. I'm not sure if I explained myself well enough though). However, regardless of where this took place, I was intrigued by the government/police scandals and investigations.
Another aspect that I liked from this book was that we learned a lot more about Lisbeth Salander. The reader learns all about her childhood and why she behaves the way she does and why she makes some of the decisions that she does.
On the other hand, while we learn a lot about Salander's past, she doesn't do much in her present. True, she is recovering from severe wounds, but I kept expecting her to get better, leave the hospital, and take things into her own hands... which happens, but not until about the last 50 pages of the book. Before then, it's Blomkvist who does all the running around and work to save Salander. Since the titles are based on Salander's character, I wanted her to do more, and yes, she is very interesting, but I do think that Blomkvist is the main character of the series (and especially thing final book), not Salander.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book... enough that I stayed up reading it last night and only got 5 hours of sleep. I would change a few things but I do recommend it.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars