The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, by Stieg Larsson
It took less than a year for the Stieg Larsson flu to spread all over Scandinavia. It was much, much more contagious than the swine flu! The books were virtually hot from the presses when people bought them – since JC nobody has sold books like Stieg Larsson to the peoples of the North, the gloomy descendants of the Vikings, and the presses could hardly keep up. And it was not that those folks aren’t used to ok crime fiction – after all, Sjöwall and Wahlöö, Mankell, Fossum, Nesbo, and a bunch of other pretty ok crime writers are from the same neck of the woods.
It is because this series, the Millennium trilogy, was something more than they were used to, something very remarkable – an engaging story with engaging side-stories within the stories, with extraordinarily fascinating and thoroughly modern heroes – perhaps especially the heroine, Lisbeth Salander. A feminist heroine, a modern day Pippi Longstockings dressed up like a Goth, and mystical and at times magical as well. And people that use modern technology - text messaging, smart surveillance, and hacking - and live in the real world. And - the icing on the cake – a series of books actually dealing with a set of issues considered important and real, and doing it in a compassionate and reasoned way, with the Davids – the outsiders, people almost like you and me – giving the Goliaths, or the powers that be, visible or not, some mighty knacks on their heads.
And now, several years later, the Millennium fever hits the English speaking world as well - as the last of the major languages. Last year Mr. Larsson from Sweden (who had heard of him in 2004?) was the second best selling author in the world! It started slowly, but now With The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest it’s taking off. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is an incredibly worthy successor to the previous two books in the trilogy, excellently conveyed to English readers by the translator, Reg Keeland. It is the book that ends the story as well as the stories within the stories. It brings them to a conclusion so gratifying that it made me ponder and experience a kind of grief and sadness in me: for the writer, Stieg Larsson, the maker of these wonders, who will write no more. What a loss.
When The Girl Who Played with Fire ended, the fiery Lisbeth Salander was suspended between life and death. It is probably not exactly a spoiler to reveal that she survived:
“She was surprised to be alive. Yet she felt indifferent. If death was the black emptiness from which she had just woken up, then death was nothing to worry about. She would hardly notice the difference. With this esoteric thought she closed her eyes and fell asleep again.”
Both the tattooed hacker and the Russian gangster who tried to end her life are now in the same hospital, Sahlgrenska hospital, just a few rooms apart. Both still want to kill the other.
So Lisbeth survived. But the stakes are still impossibly high. Now she is likely to be charged with three murders. Unless her father manages to kill her first, that is. The tension is as electrifying as in the first two books – it takes perhaps a hundred or so pages to really kick in, but be warned: when you’ve finished those pages you will have sunk it all – hook, line and sinker - and you will not want to get up from your chair for quite a while. The concluding volume of the Millennium trilogy is as unpredictable and magnificent as the previous two volumes!
In this third book in the Millennium series Lisbeth – the ultra-intelligent, slim, emotionally damaged Goth-like little lady, so lacking in social graces - seems to be completely cornered. She may die. If not, her father wants to kill her, and seems to be in position to pull it off. If she survives, she is likely to be charged for several murders. Unless, that is, that dark government associated and very powerful force that once placed her in an institution manages to have her declared as insane and sent back to a secure institution first.
Siding with Lisbeth is once again Mikael Blomkvist, an editor at Millennium magazine. His situation is even worse than in the previous book, as Lisbeth is now isolated, and unless something can be done he can’t even communicate with her. And then people intimately connected with the case begin to die.
Even so, facing strong opponents and impossible odds, Lisbeth Salander plans her ultimate revenge - against those who have harmed her as well as against those people who in order to hide their own dark secrets nearly destroyed her. Lisbeth Salander has been a victim, but now she is a huntress. Excellent planning, ingenious solutions and flawless execution will be called for if she is to succeed this time!
The pages melted away as I raced towards the conclusion. And what a conclusion it was. Superb. Brilliant. Really masterfull!
“the completion of the trilogy confirms Larsson as one of the great talents of contemporary crime fiction” -- Joan Smith, The Sunday Times
“Fans will not be disappointed: this is another roller-coaster ride that keeps you reading far too late into the night. Intricate but flawlessly plotted, it has complex characters as well as a satisfying, clear moral thrust.” —Evening Standard
“Salander is a magnificent creation: a feminist avenging angel . . . Larsson's hatred of injustice will drive readers across the world through a three-volume novel and leave them regretting the final page; and regretting, even more, the early death of a mastery storyteller just as he was entering his prime.” —Observer
“Larsson has produced a coup de foudre, a novel that is complex, satisfying, clever, moral . . . This is a grown-up novel for grown-up readers, who want something more than a quick fix and a car chase. And it's why the Millennium trilogy is rightly a publishing phenomenon all over the world.” —Guardian
“[The trilogy] is intricately plotted, lavishly detailed but written with a breakneck pace and verve . . [Hornet's Nest] is a tantalizing double finale—first idyllic, then frenetic . . . Larsson has made the literary moods of saga and soap opera converge—with suspense as the adhesive. And, behind the quickfire action, those great chords of moral and political witness continue to resonate.” —Independent
“[These are] extraordinary novels [with] astonishing impact . . . breakneck plotting, sympathetic characterization and the kind of startling denouements that occur more frequently than is conventionally considered possible. .. Be warned: the trilogy .. is seriously addictive.” —Guardian (editorial)
Prohibition era again?
It has been strange to witness how bookstores have imported literally tons of The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest from England and sold them at high prices in the US, as a response to the very slow US publishing of this book.
Did you notice that the US and UK titles differ? The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (singular) versus The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets’ Nest (plural)? Both are ok, given the content of the book. Even so, it's pretty odd? I wonder why?
Lisbeth Salander and Millennium goes to Hollywood?
(Written August 2009) It was only a question of when the Millenium series by Stieg Larsson would go to Hollywood. The award-winning and best-selling Millennium trilogy has become a global sensation. It has now sold over 25 million copies in over 40 countries. Stieg Larsson was the world’s second-best selling author of 2008. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was the best selling book in the EU in 2008.
According to The Wrap,
Sony Pictures is in final discussions to option the English-language film rights to Stieg Larsson's Millennium Series.
And according to Hollywood Insider:
It was only a matter of time before Hollywood scooped up the rights to Stieg Larsson’s best-selling trio of crime thrillers, including The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played with Fire; and the yet-to-be-released The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest.
Slashfilm gives quite a spin to this piece of news. They are running a headline that says:
The Millennium Series To Become American Movies: Brad Pitt and George Clooney in the Rumors
They also speculate on Ellen Page, Kristen Stewart or Natalie Portman playing Lisbeth Salander. Obviously, that's going to be quite an interesting role to play!
It's going to be interesting to follow this. Somebody has already established an internet site for the movies. I am sure there's going to be a lot of hype, and that the sales of Stieg Larsson's books will skyrocket.
See more news stories about Stieg Larsson at our news page!