So this is a TRIPLE REVIEW OF POWER because I own and have read all three books in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. HOW, you say? Welp, I took a trip to Ireland with two of my besties last year and was able to pick up a UK copy of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest, since it was already out at the time! My friends can tell you that I literally spazzed out with excitement in the middle of the bookstore at being able to get the final book in the Millennium Trilogy SEVEN MONTHS before it came out in the States! (In light of that, I’ll be keeping my reviews on the first two books brief and will also try to be spoiler-free.)
The central mystery in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is the disappearance of a girl from an island 40 years prior, the journalist investigating it, and the computer hacker who gets tangled up with both. I don’t know about anyone else, but the answers to ALL of the mysteries were total surprises for me. Just when I thought I knew who was hiding what, turns out I was TOTALLY WRONG. The resolution, though, is very satisfying. And the side plots, about the financial shenanigans that Mikael investigates and Lisbeth’s past, are interesting in their own right. I actually think this book could stand alone, but of course you’ll want to know what happens to Mikael and Lisbeth (especially Lisbeth!) next. Though they may not be the deepest, most well-drawn characters out there, you do become emotionally invested in them and their fight of justice (Mikael) and their straight-up badassery (Lisbeth).
The Girl Who Played With Fire: The awesome continues. The authors of a groundbreaking book on the sex trafficking trade in Sweden are murdered, and Mikael is on the case. There is some more fairly graphic sexual abuse in this one, and while the perpetrators get what they deserve, it still turned my stomach. My main complaint here is that Lisbeth spends most of her time on the run, and so isn’t participating in as much awesomeness as she usually does—at least until the end. Finding out the truth about Zalachenko is a great moment in books. I actually put the book down and just…stared. And again, the ending just whets your appetite for more time with these characters.
Drumroll, please…The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets’ Nest!
First off, I’m not too fond of the cover—the girl doesn’t look anything like I pictured Lisbeth (and isn’t the tattoo placement just incorrect?). Don’t worry, though: what’s between the covers is just more of the same great, nail-baiting suspense as before. It reads like the second part of The Girl Who Played With Fire, honestly, picking up right where the former left off. There was an early death that surprised me, and some hospital convalescing that is actually not boring due to DANGER. There’s a ton of courtroom drama and back deals conducted in shadowy government rooms. And there’s resolution to the painful and mysterious past of Lisbeth, which, for me, is probably the most compelling thread throughout all three books. Hornets’ Nest also continues the theme of strong female characters: Lisbeth herself, Erika Berger, Annika, Monica, and Mimi. And again, just when you think everything’s hunky-dory and maybe Lisbeth will get a happy ending, BAM! There’s another twist and another heart-pounding situation. In, like, the last 10 pages! I could NOT put this one down. It’s a fitting end to the series that ties up all the questions from the first and second books. (My favorite of the three is probably still Dragon Tattoo, but they are all up there.)
So yeah, maybe it’s a little silly that Blomkvist is an obvious proxy for the author, and that every woman thinks Blomkvist is a MEGA STUD, and that literally everyone fears the wrath of Millennium, but these books are worth putting up with an eye roll or two. They are addictive, and it’s a damn shame that Larsson didn’t live to see the success of his novels.
This trilogy is everything thrillers should be: tons of red herrings, interesting, passionate characters, suspense, and the good guys winning against all odds.
I also really appreciated the attention and care with which Larsson weaves plot and information about crimes against women in Sweden. It elevates this series to the next level. You’re not just getting three fantastic thrillers, you’re getting an education on Swedish gender relations.
Bookwanderer Rating: Four and a half stars each!
Bookwanderer Tagline: Want to challenge nationwide corruption, cover-ups, and a sex trafficking ring? Just find yourself a sexy journalist and a computer hacker!
p.s. Is it just me, or is Swedish lit doing super-well for itself right now? With the success of Let the Right One In, by John Ajvide Lindqvist, and The Millennium Trilogy by Larsson, the Swedes are kicking ass and taking names (and then settling down by the fire to enjoy a nice hot chocolate and universal healthcare).
p.p.s If you have a review of any Millennium Trilogy book, drop a line in the comments!