Friday, August 1, 2014

Inbetween: Review of the Millennium Trilogy


I've read this a while ago and thought it best to review it in one whole instead of dividing it up.
Stieg Larsson died almost ten years ago, being just turned 50, from a heart attack. His novels still have a widespread acclaim. Since they've been published there's been a movie, a series, even a graphic novel. The novels are as hot as ever, since they were first released.

The first of the trilogy is The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo where we get to meet the protagonist Blomkvist as he's being sentenced from publishing a story that he couldn't rightfully prove. He resigns at the magazine Millennium that he founded and while he's figuring out what to do next he's approached by Vanger, a retired business man who is being plaged by the mystery surrounding his nieces death many years ago. After hearing the story Blomkvist decides to try and unravel the mystery, it's at least something to do while the world forgets about his blunder.

As he's beginning to comb through the evidence, stories and gossip, the novel puts a spotlight on another persona, Lisbeth Salander, a troubled young girl who makes a living finding out. She works for a detective agency, but work in her own style. She get often in trouble with authority and most of all with her new guardian she get appointed. Blomkvist and Salander begin to work together to find out more about the girl's death and in the meantime they are romantically drawn together as well which feels a little odd. As Blomkvist finds more than he intended to, Salander tries to find the reason behind his fluke story with an ending that smooths most wrinkles in his life.

The novel could have done with a little more editing, but I can understand with the novel being discovered post mortem that it's not as easy to cut down the words of one who can's fight the changes.
The other thing that troubled me, was that I could see the ending coming from a long way. As its great in setting its surrounding, and it contains one of the best characters found in crime novels, it could have been better if it was a little less see-through.
The Vanger plot was nicely done, but the novel could have done without the last 60 somewhat pages. It's good to know he caught his personal nemesis but it had too much an all well ends well feeling to it, which does cost the novel some credibility.

The second novel, The Girl Who Played With Fire, is focusing more on Salander instead of Blomkvist which is great because Blomkvist was a character too weak to carry the responsibility of creating a fast pacing novel.
Firstly we get to meet Salander as she has been traveling around and is ultimately found in the Bahamas where she befriends a young boy who doesn't ask question while she is researching the couple living in the hotel room next door. He's a man who abuses his wife and while a hurricane is going over the island, he is being stopped by Salander from killing his wife and left for dead at the beach. He's the only casualty of the hurricane.
The reason this part exists is because we need to see Salander's capability of taking another's life.

The rest of the novel focuses on a sex traffic scandal being put in borad daylight by a couple that ask Blomkvist if he could publish it in his magazine Millennium. While Blomkvist thinks about it, the couple gets murdered. As also Salander's guardian is being murdered, Salander becomes the prime suspect. As she tries to ellude the cops, she is finding more clues about her past and what is being called 'All the evil', a gap in her biography. She is determined to end it once and for all and is going to confront the boogie man of her past. Meanwhile Blomkvist is also finding out more and more, albeit from another source than Salander is tapping from. Eventually it all ends in a high end climax.
The second part of the book, beginning with the triple murders and escalating in a cat & mouse hunt, were brilliant. I was intrigued when I needed to be and in the end the answers satisfied my hunger.
The first part though, that laid the groundwork for the rest, was too extensive and could have been better with some serious editing.

It was still a great read, with characters well developed, but it could have done with 200 pages less and still been able to deliver the same message.

The final installment, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet's Nest, is taking up where the previous novel has ended with Salander in the hospital. It tells about the consequences of the previous novel, as well as it shows a few new predicaments surrounding one of Blomkvist best friends, Erika Berger, as she leaves Millennium   to work as an editor on a high end newpaper. She suddenly finds herself in the center of a new plot when Salander and some of her 'hacker' friends are trying to find out the truth.

I'm not entirely sure I like the way Salander has changed during the second and thirs installment, her coming-of-age annihilates the unique character portrayed in the first novel.
The story has a slow pace, introducing many new characters, often in very black and white typecasting. Grey zones aren't recurring much in Larsson's book, with the exceptions of Salander and Blomkvist.

This installment still has the same problems as the previous two, which is understandable, since they've probably been written in one go and been proofread by the same editor. The last two books could have been easily compressed in one, if it had been edited decent. It would have taken the story to another level, letting you feel the pressure the characters were under.

All in all Millennium is a great read, but not a trilogy I'll be rereading anytime soon. I'm glad I've met Salander though, since she's the most interesting female protagonist I've discovered in literature in years.

I'll rate the trilogy in its whole a 7,5 out of 10.

1 comment:

  1. My thoughts on these books very much mirror yours, and the Lisbeth character is what kept me coming back to the books, despite the evident problems. Her transformation is hard for me to analyze just for the fact of not having ever suffered the in the way she did, but I couldn't help cheering for her. I've come to the conclusion that publishers are forsaking quality for cash and creating trilogies and longer multi-volume series out of seemingly nothing.

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