Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Book Cover)

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest
By Stieg Larsson
Knopf
May 2010
576pp

The Short of It:

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is at once edgy and endearing. Edgy in that you often can’t believe what you just read, and endearing in that no matter what the main characters do or say, you still look forward to spending some time with them.

The Rest of It:

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is the final book in Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. The series is all over the internet, so I don’t feel the need to go into details over what it’s about, but for those of you who have not read any of the books, I will tell you this, it’s well-written crime fiction with a kick-ass protagonist. If you need the summary, click here to read it.

The series as a whole can be a bit graphic. There is a lot of sexual violence towards women and there’s lesbianism and some language too, but for some reason you just sort of take it all in without balking too much about it.

Since my thoughts are all over the place with this book, I am going to highlight a few items:

  • The background history on how SIS came into being (which is sort of Sweden’s version of the CIA), was interesting at times. I felt that it went on way too long though. There was just too much detail and it dragged during these parts.
  • Lisbeth is still one of my fave female protagonists. She’s complex and simple at the same time. Complex because only a few can figure her out, but as you read and really get to know her, you realize how simple her needs and wants are. She is a no-frills kind of gal. Lovers of Lisbeth might get frustrated with her lack of involvement in the first half of the novel.
  • Mikael Blomkvist is still the womanizer of books past, but he’s so damn likable and apparently very good in bed because the women just flock to him. I love his matter-of-fact style when it comes to relationships.
  • Erika Berger plays a slightly larger role in this book. I love Erika. Another strong female. I can see why Mikael and her hook-up every now and then.
  • Larsson’s use of small, insignificant details was a bit distracting this time around. Right in the middle of the story of the century, he’ll stop to describe the sandwich that Mikael makes, or the type of electronic device that Lisbeth uses (brand, model, etc.). These mundane details were out of place. I thought this especially odd since these characters are not new to the series. Plus, the mention of specific pieces of equipment sort of dates the story in my opinion.
  • There were too many “E” names and with similar spellings to boot. I had to really concentrate to keep them all straight. I found myself frustrated by this more than once.
  • The story wrapped up too quickly at the end. Another blogger reminded me that this was meant to be book three in a ten book series before the author passed away. I suppose everything had to be tied-up quickly since it was the end of the line for the series.

In the end, I felt a tad disappointed with Hornet. To me, it was the weakest book of the series but it did answer quite a few questions that were left hanging in the previous books. BUT, even with that, I still enjoyed it quite a bit and the series is definitely worth reading.

Source: This review copy was provided by the publisher.

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21 thoughts on “Review: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest”

  1. I’ve always thought it bizarre that writers, particularly mystery writers it seems, take so much time to describe the food the protagonists are having. I don’t know if it’s a way to take a dramatic break or because food is so much a part of our lives, or what, but I think it really is a big feature of mysteries! And actually, when the book is set in another country, I think it’s kind of interesting, what they eat! :–)

    1. I was interested too, but when I figured out that open-faced sandwiches and Billy Pan Pizzas were at the top of the list of food items consumed, I didn’t need to be told that over and over again! LOL. Remember book 2? Lisbeth ate at 7-11 a lot. Ick!

  2. I really loved getting to hear more about Erika. I also agree that the details about food and technology seemed out of place. Overall I definitely enjoyed it, but it felt slower and more bogged down with details that the other two. Great review!

  3. Just started this on audio. I guess my expectations were that it would take awhile for Lisbeth to get back on her feet…she was only breaths away from death after all! I’ve been ambivalent about Erika so far, so I look forward to a more active role for her (she was kinda scarey looking in the movie!). All I want to do right now is lock myself in the closet and listen to the darned thing. But of course, I have fighting children underfoot…

  4. I agree with your assessment of this final book in the trilogy. I think it was the weakest book, but that being said, it tidied things up nicely for me. For me, the middle book was the best, probably because it featured Lisbeth so much and we already had a lot of the backstory. I’m still so sad that he died so young. It would have been interesting to see what he could hav accomplished had he been given the time to continue the series. I read somewhere that his plan was for a 10 book series.

  5. “Larsson’s use of small, insignificant details was a bit distracting this time around.”

    Yes! This is why I never made it past page 50. I just let my mom and her friend borrow this one, so we’ll see if I ever mange to get back to it.

  6. You’re so right about some of the flaws of the book … yet it just didn’t bother me for some reason … I just kind of glided over those sections. And the names … oy vey! I could not keep them straight! I just gave up .. I can recognize Lisbeth and Mikael so that is what I focused on!

  7. I always hate when authors give me the make and model of something–it does distract me in no small part because I’m wondering how that will read in a few years.

    Last night a few at our book club meeting were discussing this series and a couple of the ladies really felt this was more of a book written for men. Not having read any of the series, I couldn’t comment other than to say that I certainly know a lot of women that like them

  8. I agree with your review Ti! You did a thorough job in your highlights. I am not one that will read a lot of violent books but this series is tolerable in the way it presents the information. It’s so rich in detail that some of it is overdone. I am a huge fan of Lisbeth as well…her character was well done. I am going to miss this series tremendously.

  9. Well, with fear and trepidation I purchased the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo last week. This is not my typical kind of book choice, but I decided I needed to see what all the fuss is about with these books!
    *smiles*

  10. I started to buy the first book in the trilogy and then a woman at the store told me it was a disturbing book. I decided not to get it. I have read reviews that are all over the place. I appreciate all your thoughts as I weigh whether I want to read the first book or not. I have so many other books calling to me that have more promise. I’m torn.

    1. The first book is great, but it is graphic. There is a lot of sexual violence and domestic abuse. It’s sort of handled in a casual, off-handed way which is the disturbing part. That a violent act like rape could be considered common, or routine. BUT, the book is fab. If you are very sensitive to violence against women, like you cringe horribly while reading it or get sick to your stomach, then you can probably skip it.

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