By David Lagercrantz
Renowned journalist Mikael Blomkvist is struggling. Although his name is still well-known from the major scoops in he wrote in the past, he now seems to be moving toward the realm of obsolete as society and technology shift away from traditional journalism. Moreover, his beloved Millennium magazine faces its worst funding crisis yet. Frustrated and dejected, Blomkvist decides to take yet another story tip that hardly seems worth his time, until a slender, brilliant hacker comes into the story. The story explodes just as Blomkvist starts out. A computer genius working on advanced AI technology has been murdered, and his computer stolen. Equally at stake are the future of the AI program, which could easily be put to use for nefarious purposes in the wrong hands, and the future of a young boy with autism, August. August is the son of the computer genius and witnessed the murder, but he has never spoken a word in his life. As before, Salander’s hacking skills help Blomkvist in his road of discovery, revealing ties not only between the AI genius and the National Security Association in the United States, but also a Russo-Swedish criminal gang that seems to have personal connections to Salander herself.
“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” by David Lagercrantz is the fourth book in the Millenium series. Published years after “The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” and taken up after the death of Stieg Larsson, Lagercrantz brings back the familiar cast of characters. Lagercrantz plays on the irony that Blomkvist is outdated in a world that is quickly becoming more and more technologically connected by putting him in the middle of a scoop packed full of some of the most cutting-edge technological advances in the world. Both he and Salander are connected to and mirrored by the boy with autism, August. Blomkvist and August are connected by the story of his murdered father, and by their general disinterest in technology (August has a love for puzzles, Blomkvist for old-fashioned journalism). Salander is connected to August by literally rescuing him from an attempt on his life, and she shares some character traits with August in that both of them show an aversion to social interaction and a knack for difficult mathematical formulas. Continuing the trend of earlier Millennium novels, this story also moves at lightning speed with shocking revelations and tantalizing plot twists.
I have to say it, I’m not in love with this book. I could see the bare bones of Larsson’s characters in the story written by Lagercrantz, but they often acted in ways I would never have expected from the original characters. Lagercrantz threw in plot twists and cliff hangers in a way that doesn’t jive with Larsson’s writing either. Am I a purist when it comes to series cannon? Yes. Was it entertaining to read nonetheless? Yes. Will I read the next one? Absolutely. It’s still a fun and enthralling story, and certainly worth reading.
by Stieg Larsson
After being shot in the head and left to die, Lisbeth Salander is in critical condition, yet somehow through pig-headed ingenuity Mikael Blomkvist manages to find her just in time. While Blomkvist deals with the ongoing criminal investigation of the web of illicit activities surrounding Salander, she spends months recuperating in a hospital. Blomkvist knows Salander is innocent and is determined to prove it, but that turns out to be more complicated than any of them ever imagined. If they can believe the information they’re finding, Blomkvist and the investigators who believe in Salander’s innocence have discovered a cover-up reaches the highest levels and most secret echelons of state government. Not only that, but the people behind the cover-up seem reckless to the point of carelessness in their efforts to keep their secrets hidden. More murders, disappearances, and strange coincidences occur on a daily basis, and could possibly all be connected if only there were evidence to prove it. Blomkvist needs Salander’s hacking skills to find information that will lead the team in the right direction and prove her innocence, but time is limited. The more mired Blomkvist becomes in the situation, the more risk he faces, personally and professionally, to prove her innocence.
“The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” by Stieg Larsson is the third installment in the Millennium series (following the second book, The Girl who Played with Fire). In this book, Salander begins to show some healing from her vast history of trauma. Not only does she begin the grueling process of physical recovery after attempted murder, but she also begins to understand the importance of the people in her life. Salander is completely powerless to do anything about her situation and is forced to rely on others due to her physical helplessness and enforced isolation. Although she continues to fight tooth and nail to avoid asking for help, she learns to accept some of the help that is freely offered to her. She also benefits from new learning experiences that show her she can trust some people in positions of authority, which serve to undo some of her early learning to never talk to any medical or legal professionals. These lessons are not only painful, but they are not easy to learn. Many, many offers of help are extended before Salander finally begins to accept that other people are concerned about her wellbeing and are working to support her.
Have I mentioned yet that these books are absolutely enthralling? The third book in the series moves faster than the first two because it picks up exactly where the second book left off and does not go through extensive background before jumping ahead in the plot. This book has another ginormous cast of characters, which occasionally causes confusion (particularly as the characters are introduced), but just keep reading and eventually all the loose ends come together. Long, sometimes dense, and definitely worth the read.