I promised a review of this book, as I’d got so excited on social media about the return of two of my all-time favourite literary characters and a few people echoed my euphoria. So here it is.
I’m going to keep things deliberately vague for two reasons: firstly, so as not to spoil the suspense, of which there is a lot. It’s a book about the underbelly of the Internet, Russian Mafia and Artificial Intelligence FFS, so it’s not giving anything away to say that the plot is steeped in intrigue. Secondly, it’s a little over my head if I’m honest. I’m average when it comes to the technical side of things, but there’s a lot of geek speak. However, I don’t think this will stop you following or enjoying it.
As you may, or may not know, the author of the original Millennium Trilogy (which I bang on about all the time), Steig Larsson passed away in 2004. With him went his sheer brilliance and also the fate of his super characters Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomvist. Partners in crime, or more importantly, justice.
It was depressing, once the final book had been finished and the last film viewed, to think that that was it. Our heroes’ stories fully told, never to evolve beyond The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, which was published posthumously in 2007. Whether Larsson ever had plans to give us more, I have no idea. (Actually, he did but those ideas have nothing to do with this story which is a bone of contention with Larsson’s long-term girlfriend, Eva Gabrielsson).
But then came The Girl in the Spider’s Web and author David Lagercrantz; and, just like that, Lisbeth is back – the most exciting news of all time?
I suppose the question on most people’s lips is, is it any good? Well you’ll have to read on to see what I think!
Blomvist is having issues at work. Sadly these aren’t just a bit of can’t-be-arsedness at the end of a day like the rest of us. The big bosses at Millennium are planning a shake-up in content and this might serious compromise Blomvist’s hard-hitting style.
He’s seriously pissed but just before he throws in the towel forever, a mysterious encounter piques his journalistic interest again. Has this got anything to do with the involvement of an aloof, yet brilliant hacker that may, or may not be his old friend, Salander?
The pair haven’t been keeping in touch, not even the odd postcard but Blomvist agrees to get involved in the curious case of Professor Balder, a scientist seriously concerned for his life, following the theft of some super valuable research.
Balder wants to tell Blomvist his story but things don’t go to plan and lots of drama ensues. The scientist, you see, isn’t just worried about his own life. He’s also fearful for the safety of his young son, August who is autistic.
Balder has been an absent father for too long, so he’s quit his job in the Silicon Valley, Cali. and headed back to Sweden to take responsibility for once. But can he get through to August? And what is this intriguing new skill of August’s? What does it all mean?! (All these questions!)
Meanwhile, Salander is stirring up shit on Darknet and pissing off a lot of people with her skillz. Blomvist optimistically reaches out to his old crime-solving partner but will she take the bait?
I really can’t tell you anymore. What I can say is that you’ll be back in touch with a lot of your old favourite characters; from Plague, the enormous hacker and Erika Berger editor-in-chief at Millennium and on-off lover of Blomvist to Holger Palmgren, Lisbeth’s former guardian and slightly bumbling Chief Inspector Jan Bublanski.
You’ll meet some new ones too, some of whom are terrible but brilliant villains. Gotta always love the villains.
This book, of course, has garnered a mixed bag of reviews. Some people just ain’t down for a Larsson substitute and I can totally understand that. However, I’m glad another author has been given the opportunity to bring my favourite character back to life.
I’d rather have some Salander than none at all and I feel like he understands her. She remains the same bad ass; driven and talented, hard as nails but also vulnerable with a moral compass that never ever wavers.
This time around we meet Camilla, Lisbeth’s sister and learn more about their fractious relationship growing up. We gain more insight into the tragic life of the girls and their mother, Agneta. I could never tire of Salander’s origin story or her further adventures, so all I can say is GIVE ME MORE.
There were points I was genuinely moved (one of Blomvist’s beloved colleagues sacrifices himself for the greater good and it’s heartbreaking).
I also had a real soft spot for August and his mother. Savant syndrome is a fascinating topic, one I knew nothing about. By the end of the book you’ll be desperate to see what becomes of the boy and his extraordinary gift.
And I hope, like me, that you’ll enjoy yourself along the way. Because life is so much better with Salander in it.
My rating: 4/5 – not bad. The Millennium Trilogy gets 500/5 but this ain’t bad at all.