although I try not to explicitly state the end of the book, I do discuss it
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In the final book of the Millenium Trilogy we pick up exactly where book two left off. Lisbeth Salander is in the hospital accused of the attempted murder of Alexander Zalachenko (Salander’s Russian-spy-turned-informant-wife-beater-father). She is under police guard, with a multitude of powerful men waiting for her release, like salivating dogs ready to pounce. They intend to bury her alive in a psychiatric institution and thereby bury the Zalachenko secret forever. Meanwhile, the police are hunting Ronald Niederman who is, unbeknownst to them, Salander’s half-brother. Add to that Mikhail Blomkvist, who is bent on exposing the extreme injustices committed against Salander by the Swedish government because of the need to protect her father, Sweden’s most explosive secret and security threat. Blomkvist’s sole aim is to expose and right the corruption and stripping of Salander’s rights.
Despite these many layers in the book, and the episodes of extreme violence suffered by those Salander and Blomkvist care about, the pace in this third novel slows almost to a screeching halt. Previous posts on this trilogy have included my reactions to the amount and nature of violence described and the intriguing layers that make up Salander’s character. Larsson definitely kept this going in the final book of the trilogy. What I didn’t expect was the amount of investigative detective work that would occur in this third book.
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I liked this book. I didn’t love this book. And, I don’t think I liked it enough to read it again. I became weary of the many conversations analysing every new piece of evidence: Blomkvist mentions it to Cortez and Eriksson, and then has to tell Figuerola who then must discuss it with her boss and so on. Each time a piece of information is revealed it is mulled over, looked at in a different way, from a different angle…I would skip over entire paragraphs and pages because the content did not change and I found myself not really caring about each character’s opinion.
Moreover, Berger’s storyline was completely unnecessary. However, the comment that all patriarchal institutions have an effect on violence against women was not lost on me. Berger experiences degrading name-calling and her authority is constantly challenged and questioned. She experiences horrendous workplace harrassment that ends in a vicious assault. She is hired to make changes to an archaic newspaper – a sole woman in a sea of men who have never been bossed around by a woman – and, essentially, fails. One woman cannot do it alone, even someone as strong and intelligent as Erika Berger. The kind of change that the Millenium Trilogy calls for, true gender equality and respect – requires action and committment from all.
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Nothing in this book is really a mystery – the conclusion is essentially laid out throughout the book. The trial plays out as expected and the final verdict isn’t a surprise either. It takes much, much longer than it should, really. Too many dates and facts about Swedish government and history in politics are noted that ultimately don’t really matter to the plot or character development. Unless you are Swedish perhaps and it would help to put certain details about Salander’s case into context.
Lisbeth’s final confrontation with Niederman is no surprise either, since he isn’t caught by the authorities (throughout this trilogy one thing is clear – police incompetence). She finally shows her true abilities as a wasp and as a fighter, someone who simply refuses to allow another to squash her.
I appreciated the final moments of the novel where Mikhail and Lisbeth are reunited in friendship. Although they are in constant communication throughout the book via computer, they finally come face-to-face. Mikhail asks for friendship and Lisbeth allows him in, realizing all romantic feelings for him are gone and realizing she is finally linked in true friendship to another person.
Overall, I really enjoyed the trilogy. The main characters captured my imagination. Salander is strong, intelligent and unstoppable. Blomkvist matches her, barely, yet he holds his own…I could’ve done without his whole Rico Suave routine with the ladies, but I guess that’s part of his allure. This was a smart book; many times I had to suspend reality and allow myself to be led by the narrator, that yes, everything would go as Blomkvist planned. Nonetheless, an entertaining read that forces one to look at one of the plaguing issues of our time: violence against women. No one is completely responsible and everyone is accountable. Great characters, great plot, a fun reading experience awaits.