Friday, July 30, 2010
Well, that's it folks. No more Lisbeth, no more Mikael. Unless Larsson's girlfriend, father and brother sort out their differences over the late author's estate, and hire someone to complete the unfinished fourth installment, this is the end. We have the Swedish films to look forward to, of course, and the US version if casting doesn't make several potentially fatal errors, but that is little consolation for what could have been the biggest series in decades. Forgive me for a moment while I go cry in my Carlsberg Lager.
There probably isn't much sense in revealing the plot. It has been beaten to death on the blogs, and, frankly, you really must read the first two installments (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl That Played With Fire) if you don't want to be completely lost. But just so I can feel like I am doing my job, I'll say a few words.
After being shot in the head and buried alive by her most vile bastardly father and half-brother, Lisbeth hangs onto life, being the resilient survivor that we know and love. She is hospitalized and in rehabilitation for most of the story, but still is very much present and doing her thing, which happens to be kicking everyone's ass with her computer hacking skillz. Mikael is once again the knight in shining armor, and digs up the whole scoop on the depth of the governmental conspiracy that lies behind Lisbeth's father, which is controlled by men who mean to protect their secrets at all costs. And he picks up a hard-bodied honey along the way. (What is up with this guy's sex appeal anyway? Women drop like flies at his feet...).
And for a guy that wouldn't live to see the completion of his fourth book, Larsson did a mighty fine job of wrapping things up. Can you imagine if he had failed to finish THIS book? I would have had a cat. We can be at peace with this ending.
But I have to bring up the contrary opinion. A few discs into this book, I became aware of a several posts concerning Larsson's poor writing style. Yes, the rule of thumb for not only literature but movies is "show, don't tell". Don't tell me the person is upset, show them in a fit of despair as they collapse on the bed in tears. Critics of Larsson claim that he is a teller and has been damned for it. Hmmm. I went back to my iPod and listened.
They are right.
How did I not see this? This is truly a critical flaw. So why have I completely fallen in love with the series and failed to notice?
Well, the first reason would be the wondrous narration of Simon Vance. His caramel-smooth voice makes it all really compelling and intellectual. He could make The DiVinci Code feel like a revered classic. I know a number of books that could have used his expertise.
But the second reason, and just as important, is the character of Lisbeth Salander. I doubt if I would actually like her if I met her, but I want to protect her, take a bullet for her, and give her a great big hug. How is it, that an author that tells us everything and shows us very little, has created a character in which I am invested more than any other? And I'm not the only one. There is an army of Lisbeth fans. Hollywood actresses are mud-wrestling over the priviledge of playing her.
There are definitely issues in the third installment. It wanders. It needs editing. There are so many words. Holy moly. What they ate. What they wore. The history of Amazon women. But about 2/3 of the way through the story we come to The Trial. The one where Lisbeth fights for not only her freedom, but her rights as a human being. For justice and redemption. It is nearly impossible to stop reading during this portion of the novel. It is tight and tense, and fist-pumping awesome. You forget the flaws. You want to start the Lisbeth Salander fan club. You fear you will curse and rip at your clothing if the US producer casts Kristen Stewart in her role. I carelessly cast aside the showing or telling, and at the risk of my book blogger cred, I will shamelessly declare my love.
If I had to rank the books in the series, I liked The Girl Who Played With Fire the most, followed by The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and this book coming in last. But it is a means to an end. A very poignant end.
Hornet's Nest: 4 out of 5 stars
The series: 5 out of 5 stars