I went into this book with an open mind — mainly because when I first started Stieg Larsson’s illennium Trilogy, I couldn’t even finish it. I’d been given The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as a gift and the universe help me if I didn’t try reading that book six times before giving up. Eventually, however, my father got me to listen to the audiobooks and, sure enough, I found myself so engrossed in the story that I binge-listened to all three novels in under a week. I have also, of course, gone back and physically read the novels as well; needless to say, I enjoy the trilogy immensely — I even own two sets of it.
When I first heard there was to be a fourth book, written by a ghost writer, I thought a deal had finally been reached with Larsson’s widow/partner to let his incomplete fourth manuscript into the world.
Yeah, that’s not what this is.
Honestly, I’m not usually a fan of people “tacking on” to complete stories — especially when the original author has no hand in it — because, well, the story is done. It’s finished. I know some people who weren’t happy with the ending of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, but I found it very fitting. The characters solved the overarching mystery and both Mikael and Lisbeth were mending their many broken fences to be true friends. I like that. It’s a great ending.
And now we have this. Written without reference as to what was in Larsson’s unfinished manuscript. This wouldn’t bother me so long as the book, for me, felt like a Millennium book — if I could shut my eyes, listen, and feel like, sure, Stieg Larsson could have written this.
But it doesn’t. It really doesn’t.
The cadence of the writing — obviously the first thing I notice in an audiobook, especially given the reader of the original trilogy, Simon Vance, is back for this novel as well — is completely off; the characters, especially Mikael, behave in ways that are totally out of character from what was established in the original trilogy.
The ultimate problem, I think, is that Lisbeth-mania from readers overshadowed what was really a dynamic team. Readers loved Lisbeth Salander: looks like a fifteen-year old boy, smarter than a whip with a temper to match, unparalleled hacking skills, and a “fuck off” attitude. Sure. How can you not love that? I won’t deny that I did, but —and I really have to stress this — I liked her because of her contrast with Mikael. He was just as a strong a character as Lisbeth: intelligent, stubborn, open-minded, and very woman-friendly. He was the perfect person to pair with Lisbeth because their contrasts complimented each other. In The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Mikael’s character is the one that suffers the most. As a result, the team dynamic of Mikael and Lisbeth suffers. That, for me, effectually ruins the novel.
Let me be clear: this could have been good. I really think it could have been. Unfortunately, for me, it wasn’t.