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I devoured this book. Okay – the second half of the book. I was feeling a little duped at the beginning. Not much really happened – and I was surprised when it didn’t pick up exactly where The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo left off. (As does the third book of the trilogy). But, I refused to put it down because it started with Lisbeth Salander and she truly intrigued me.
So, I trudged along, knowing that at some point, unbeknownst to me, I would be hooked.
Larsson’s original cast of characters was joined by a whole new crew that were well developed – at times, as I felt with the first novel, too well. I was actually pretty impressed with Larsson’s ability to juggle so many characters with so many plot lines that were virtually all part of the main plot – without giving anything away prematurely.
Salander and Blomkvist were back – and it was awesome to follow their story again, even though they weren’t actually working together. Salander disappears for several chapters from the novel (as she does within the novel – there is a massive hunt for her when she is accused of committing a triple murder) – a very clever move by the writer. And, in the meantime, more mystery about her character is created, more layers to be unpeeled are provided – and this was where I was hooked.
I wanted to know more. So, I read voraciously (which really means a few pages a day between being mommy to a three year-old and English teacher to IB students who are nearing their final exams – all while trying to live my own life, but I digress).
The mystery that surrounds Salander was finally unveiled – but it was a frustratingly, and deliciously slow process. Every word and every conversation answered a question and created three more. It was wonderful. Finally learning about “All the Evil”, about the truth of her upbringing and parents, about the involvement of the Swedish government in her life was well worth the many interrupted conversations and cryptic messages she kept sending Blomkvist to keep him busy.
What was even more wonderful was to see Salander in action. Her ability with computers is both fascinating (she can literally, run the world) and eerie (because we know that there are people out there who can do what she does). I literally laughed aloud when she single-handedly brought down two large, brawny motorcyle gang members. I felt her confidence surge as she battled for her life when she confronted two extremely dangerous and powerful men.
Once again, Larsson’s book is imbued with commentary about the kind of violence women experience – systemic violence that can only be stopped when women like Salander fearlessly stand up to abusers and men like Blomkvist are ready to expose perpetrators, letting abusers know that this is not tolerable in a civilised society.
Yes, it is repeated throughout the novel that Salander is not mentally well, that she is extremely violent and that she is not normal – but, it doesn’t seem to matter because she only harms those who have seriously harmed others or have physically threatened her and she is just so good at kicking ass.
If you enjoy a good thriller, with a variety of well-developed characters and strong protagonists, a novel that does not shy away from criticising politicians, lawyers, the police, the media and that has lots of action (and violence) – this is the novel for you. A great read that will not disappoint and that will instantly have you looking for book three of the Millenium Trilogy.