Sunday, November 15, 2015

Book Review: The Girl in the Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz

Published by Knopf

I read the English translation of the fourth installment of the Millennium series originally created by Stieg Larson. I am often the victim of the herd mentality when it comes to fiction choices and was not disappointed when I first picked up The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. I enjoyed the two follow up novels immensely and all the film adaptations, both American and Sweden.

Despite all the drama proceeding this publication, I was curious enough to pick up a copy. Lisbeth Salander is one of my favorite female literary characters and Mikael Blomkvist provides a solid male support. 

The mystery in this one starts out slow and there are so many characters as a distracted reader, I often got lost and it would take me several paragraphs to fall back into a scene. I may write a few spoilers after this point so if you are interested in reading it, I would defer the rest of my review. I would read it if you are a fan of the series but it is the weakest one. 

The story sets up several interesting issues with artificial intelligence and the NSA but never seems to follow through. I never got the sense that the NSA was an all powerful organization and Salander defeated them with her hacker skills a little too easily. I would've liked to have seen more about this mysterious organization and even the final illegal activity reveal felt a bit dull and boring. Even the more sinister organization run by Lisbeth's sister was not that powerful in the end. 

The murder came a hundred pages in and the young boy who was an autistic savant was an interesting character. It is interesting and a bit difficult as a reader to see so many perspectives and then see a character who is clueless like Blomkvist was. This was done well by Lagencrantz and I would be curious to see how he functions in his own series. I would've liked to have learn more about Frans Balder and his artificial intelligence but the author did a good job not bogging us down in the details.

The reveal of Lisbeth's sister, Camilla, as the villain came in a bit of an info dump moment but I thought it was a nice tie-in to the old books despite a feeling of it being forced. The ending was set up too much for a sequel and lacked a powerful climax. The one significant character death of Zander, a Millennium magazine employee, was a bit over foreshadowed and didn't pack quite the emotional punch it strived for.

Overall, this was a mediocre but suitable follow-up to an interesting series and I'm not so totally turned off that I wouldn't pick up another as these characters are very appealing. It must be hard to step into another writer's shoes and their world of characters but Lagencrantz accomplished that and may grow more comfortable if he has signed on to do another. 

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