Good lord, I have finally finished reading the third book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest.
Compared to the first and second book, I struggled to complete this one. By the time I reached half of the 563 pages, I was sick of reading about Blomkvist making coffee (again) or the entire life story of some guy who works at SMP- a separate arc on Berger that had nothing to do with the main plot (i.e. Salander).
Larsson’s writing style is one that I both despise and adore. He is adamant on writing about every detail that happens from anybody’s perspective that half the time I wonder, “Did I really need to know this?”
At the same time, it is because he is able to give so much information that I am able to get a clear picture of what the hell is happening in a triple murder case that eventually opens up questions on constitutional rights, national security, and government authority. Yes, we are talking about Sapo, a defected Russian spy, Vietnamese toilets, and Blomkvist drinking coffee (again!) with the Prime Minister of Sweden and the Minister of Justice.
The second half of the book was quite satisfying, especially the chapters on Salander’s trial. The characters that made the most impact on me were Dr. Anders Jonasson, The Hacker Republic, and Annika Giannini. While I’m at it, I’ll throw in that I actually quite liked the ending.
I have already established an elite body called The Knights of the Idiotic Table. We will be holding an annual dinner at which we’ll have fun talking crap about you. No, you’re not invited.
Dr. Anders Jonasson vs. Dr. Teleborian
Although both of them are doctors, Teleborian makes Jonasson look like an angel. Jonasson saves Salander’s life by removing the bullet in her head. He protects her from Teleborian and biased police investigations with his medical authority, consequently buying time for Salander and her friends to formulate and launch a defense/attack plan of their own. While Jonasson may not be the most ethical person in the world, since he illegally sneaks in Salander’s palm device into her room, it is his non-judgmental attitude that I would like to applaud.
I am not sure if his prejudiced attitude is due to the nature of his profession. Doctors are required to save the patient’s life, even if the patient is a suspected triple-murderer. My respect for Jonasson sky-rockets in his conversation with Teleborian. With just a single conversation, Jonasson is able to pick out flaws in Teleborian’s previous psychiatric report and is able to sense that there is something fishy going on. Everybody else, including police investigators and all the social workers, blindly believe in Teleborian and Bjurman, who commit illegal and disgusting acts behind closed doors. Jonasson is able to gain Salander’s respect in a record-breaking amount of time (only several months!) and serves as a reminder to Salander that not all authoritative figures are bastards.
The Hacker Republic
She wondered why she, who had such difficulty talking about herself with people of flesh and blood, could blithely reveal her most intimate secrets to a bunch of completely unknown freaks on the Internet.
I am quite attracted to The Hacker Republic, a group of genius hackers that help Salander while she is locked away in a hospital. Many of them, she has never met and little is known about everybody’s identities. This makes them even more interesting. Although Salander is slashed over national news, The Hacker Republic is the closest thing Salander has to a group of friends. Salander has friends here and there, but not an identifiable group.
I just really like how they ask each other things like “should we shut down the government?” No big deal.
Giannini is not a character that we get to learn a lot about, but I think she’s fantastic during Salander’s trial. She kind of reminds me of the female lawyers in Jodi Picoult’s novels. She was endearing, polite, and nailed Teleborian to his legal deathbed.
If I were to string in Larsson’s sectional references to the history of Amazon female warriors, I would say that Giannini is indeed a strong and specialized female warrior that made Salander’s triumph possible.
Blomkvist and Bagels
Then she made up her mind. It was absurd to pretend that he did not exist. It no longer hurt her to see him. She opened the door wide and let him into her life again.
It saddens me to know that Larsson passed before he was able to finish writing everything he wanted to. The Millennium series ends as a trilogy, but if Larsson had his way it could have very well reached 7 books. For a story that ended as abruptly as it did, the ending of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest was lovely in the most simplistic way: Blomkvist showing up to Salander’s apartment with bagels.
He didn’t ask for love, sex, or information/answers to his questions. If anything, the only thing he was offering, aside from bagels, was his friendship and company. And Salander, after everything that had happened, opened the door and let him in just like their very first meeting in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I love endings that bring us back to the beginning.
Except… there are some loose ends: Blomkvist + Figuerola? And where the hell is Camilla?
Everything else set aside, I am so glad to finally be finished this series. It was a long, sometimes exasperating read, but overall very worth it.