Dec 3, 2011

Dual Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

I have decided to review these two books as if they are one, more or less. The reason, mostly, is a personal one: I started The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest literally seconds after finishing The Girl Who Played With Fire. I'm a little fuzzy on where one ends and the other begins. Unlike the first book, which has a definite end, these two are more or less a part one and two of the same story.

The Girl Who Played With Fire starts of awhile after The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo ends. Lisbeth Salander has been out traveling the world and pretty much being her usual self. The she goes back to Sweden and some people get murdered. She's a suspect. The media is in a frenzy and she's nowhere to be found. You spend a bunch of the book not knowing for sure if she murdered them or not, before a lot of other crazy stuff happens. It turns out her whole life has pretty much been a giant conspiracy against her. The people who know and like her seem to think that this all explains why she is the way she is, but I have a feeling she'd be how she is even if nothing bad ever happened to her. Does that make sense? Probably not. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest is more or less about tying up all the loose ends from the book that preceded it. There was a trial, that was the best part, I think. Then there was the aftermath of the trial, which almost, but not exactly, finished the trilogy off nicely. It's understandable that there were still unanswered questions. There were supposed to be a total of ten books in the series, but the author died unexpectedly. A fourth book was three quarters finished at the time of his passing, and his partner - Eva Gabrielsson - has said that she is capable of finishing the book. If she did, I would definitely read it. Sadly, she doesn't have the rights to it, as her and Larsson never married and his will was written unwitnessed. I have a feeling that book will never see the light of day. Sad. Very sad.

If that found that synopsis frustratingly vague, you might have a sense of how I felt writing it. There are so many secrets and twists that I found it impossible to write without giving away my favorite thing about these three books: finding out the truth, layer by layer, moment by moment. There weren't really any big reveals or surprises, but you also don't quite know where the stories are going to lead you. It's like you're on the verge of figuring it out - if you just had one more clue - but then you get that clue and you're like - ...ok, seriously this time - one more clue please? You kind of feel for the police in the novels: like them, you're always a step or two behind Mikael Blomkvist.

A very pressing question I have: Do people in Sweden really eat that many sandwiches, or was Stieg Larsson just strangely obsessed with them? It seemed like every time you turned around, someone was eating sandwiches. Morning, noon and night - Sandwiches, sandwiches, sandwiches. I mean, I love sandwiches, but it was excessive. Am I missing something, culturally? Are sandwiches the main diet staple in Sweden?

Back on topic. Were these two books as good as the first one? No, not even close. That being said, if you enjoyed the first one, you will enjoy these ones as well. On a scale from Totally Awesome to Horrifically Awful, I would give them an Absolutely Great. 

Read my review of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo here.



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