It has been a few days since I finished this glorious book on audio, and I'm dragging my feet to write a review. Why? I have lots to say about it. I went on small tangents talking about it over the last couple of weeks in various posts and e-mails. I guess I am afraid I won't do it justice. I don't have those kinds of skillz, I don't think.
I loved this book's predecessor, "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo". As soon as I finished it, I rushed to the library's website and ordered this audio, and was on the wait list for about three months. When I finally received it, I loaded it on iTunes as fast as a body can, and off I went, giddy and excited as a girl on her wedding day.
We are reunited with our endearing yet horn-dogish Mikael Blomkvist, who is enjoying the fruits of his successes earned in the first book. However, he is dispirited to find that Lisbeth Salander wants nothing to do with him. Meanwhile, an investigative journalist has approached Mikael and Millennium Publishing with idea for an expose on sex trafficking that will once again put Millennium in the spotlight.
We also catch up with Lisbeth and find her wandering aimlessly around the globe, and trying to decide what to do with her life. Despite being independently wealthy, she feels lost and alone.
Then Lisbeth's past, when "all the evil" happened, catches up with her. Lisbeth and Mikael's worlds converge again, and a tangled web of murder, political corruption and decades-old grievances surface and are unleashed.
I have said this before, and I will say it again. Lisbeth Salander is one of the most enigmatic, sympathetic and charismatic characters developed in modern literature. You can't put your finger on her...she is a social outcast, a brilliant computer hacker and mathematician, violent when cornered, and moralistic to a fault. I'm pretty sure if I met her, I wouldn't like her. But on the page (or in my ear, as it were) I want to revere her and protect her at the same time. We get to spend alot more time learning about Lisbeth in this book, with not one dull moment. We begin to understand what made her into the girl she is today, every bit of it horrifying.
As with the first book, Larsson takes his time setting up the story. He slowly reveals the desolation of Lisbeth's new life, the ways in which she is currently protecting herself from those who want to exploit her or hurt her, the state of Millennium's business, the sex trafficking trade, and even Mikael's sex life. Then the cogs begin to turn, and a multi-dimensional mystery unfurls itself. The characters, even the most insignificant, are interesting and drawn with depth. I was invested in the story right up to my armpits. Invested to the point, when Larsson pulls a fast one on us near the end of the book, I nearly had a coronary. (Seriously, I was in the middle of a walk when I got to this point, and I had to sit down.) In the land of dime-a-dozen crime thrillers, this one stands out like a beacon of light.
Now let me just wax lovingly for a minute about Simon Vance, the narrator. Yes, he is my ear candy (BTW, he also narrated The Little Stranger as well), the embodiment of listening pleasure. His voice, his accents, the lilt in his words just makes me purr. I could walk to California and back if I had him in my ear. If you have a chance to listen to his work, you shouldn't pass it up. He brings his stories to life.
So now, here I sit, waiting for the release of the third and final book in the series, "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest". It is released in the US in May, and most likely it will take me another three months to wait my way through the hold list at the library for the audio. I trust that every agonizing day of waiting will be worth it.
5 out of 5 stars