Is it worth getting entangled? Review of The Girl in the Spider’s Web

You’ll note that this is not posted under “Recommended Reading.”

That’s because I’d only recommend this book to you if you were:

a) dying to find out what’s up with Lisbeth Salander, or

b) interested in how another writer is continuing with the Dragon Tattoo Girl trilogy.

If you fall into the first category then spoiler alert! Lisbeth is still angry. If anything, she’s angrier than ever.

If you’re wondering about b), well, let’s just say it can’t be easy to pick up where another writer left off. David Lagercrantz might be an “acclaimed Swedish journalist and author” in his own right, but he’s no Stieg Larsson. (I mean, we’re told that Lisbeth has a few pieces of Ikea furniture in her apartment, but we don’t even get to hear what kind they are. Is she sitting in an Ektorp chair? or is it Kivik? These are the kinds of details us Millennium Series readers have come to expect.)

Those points aside, what about the story?

My initial response to the book was “Whaaa???” turning into more of a “WTF?” before ending with a mild “Huh?”

At the beginning of the novel:

  • we are introduced to Frans Balder, a computer genius who has returned to Sweden, from working in the US, to look after his severely autistic son. Although nothing is specifically spelled out at first, we understand that he has left his US company under less than auspicious circumstances, and that there is some sort of hacking scandal in the works.
  • we catch up with Mikael Blomkvist and the gang at Millenium magazine, and they are, oops! in trouble again. Mikael needs a big story or the magazine will go under.
  • we already know that the book is about Lisbeth, our favourite fictional hacker.
  • and we’ve got the US National Security Agency, SAPO, the Swedish Security Police, and the Stockholm Police involved.

So far we have the makings of a good, if slightly predictable, continuation of the story.

The book is as chock-full of characters as the first three novels, and it jumps between them just as much, however I felt as though I was missing whole chunks of the story, especially in the first third of the book. Lagercrantz switches between sub-plots, revealing tantalizing bits of information each time, but not enough to actually tell the reader what’s going on, to the point where I had to keep going back to the beginning to make sure I hadn’t inadvertently missed a page or four.

Luckily, just as I was about to give up in utter confusion, the author introduces some characters who go into multiple pages of explanation. This wouldn’t be so bad, except that at various times I couldn’t help thinking of Syndrome’s line in The Incredibles “you caught me monologuing!”

So is it worth a read? Sure. Stick with it. It all comes together in the last third or so, you get over your frustration with the annoying cliffhangers, and you finish the book not wanting to throw it across the room.

I know. Not a ringing endorsement. But you’re not going to read this one unless you’ve read the first three, and all I can say is 1) you’ve been warned, and 2) you won’t hate it.

I won’t, of course, give away the ending, except to say that based on the way things are left, and the fact that the subtitle of the book is “A Lisbeth Salander Novel” I expect that more are on the way.

Will I read the next one? I will. I like Lisbeth. She’s a badass fighting for the good guys. I’m also curious to see what David Lagarcrantz will do going forward. Maybe he needs a book or two to get in the rhythm of the story, so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt, and I’ll check back in, when and if a new book appears in this series.

 

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