Feb 8, 2012

Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

As a woman who works in a male-dominated industry – sports journalism – I've been met with roadblocks, insinuating looks and condescending comments. Some are more blatant than others, but the more I'm faced with, the easier it is for me to recognize a threat early.

After dealing with these types of situations, I always enjoy a book with strong female characters who work hard for what they want, but aren't afraid to make mistakes and even admit when they are overwhelmed.

This in essence is what The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest was about, which played a strong role throughout the Millennium trilogy. But never did it seem to take such a commanding presence as it did in the final book.

Stieg Larsson made a point to show powerful women, where certain things in their lives didn't matter: their sexual escapades or their (lack of) social grace.

Women were warriors and have fought as hard as men to get where they belong.


The second book in the series left off with Lisbeth Salander being shot, including in the head. Then, she was buried in a shallow grave only to dig herself out and launch an ax into her estranged and horrific father's head.

Of course, knowing Larsson and how he loves his female characters, there was no doubt Salander would be OK. But knowing what would happen didn't take away from the fun of the book. Larsson's pulse-racing narrative had to be read, even if some of the actions weren't wholly necessary if only to show off how big and bad women could be – think Erika Berger's stalker.


The book opens with Salander in the hospital, being brought in to treat her wounds. She ends up being charged with a series of felonies, including attempted murder of her father. She's eventually brought to trial where conspirators try – for the second time – to have her locked up in a mental institution. Through the help of journalist Mikael Blomkvist, she's out to prove her innocence and her sanity.

Salander refuses to be a victim anymore.


The final installment worked better than the second, even though Larsson mashed up genres throughout the series with mystery thriller, psychoanalysis, political undertones and courtroom dramas.

Just as certain storylines made for a clean ending, others began with secret departments in the government and new people being dragged into the drama. Even a possible, semi-permanent love interest for Blomkvist, who, of course, was quite possible one of the most physically impressive woman in the entire series.


Rating: 4.5

While I'm a little late the party in reading this book, it quickly became a favorite. It was very well written and had some fantastic, believable characters. I'm a little disappointed this is the end and Larsson is no longer with us because I feel as though Salander wouldn't be able to keep herself out of trouble.

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