“The Girl in the Spider’s Web”- Review
NO SPOILER SECTION
(I do put some spoilers to the first three books though)
I was introduced to Stieg Larsson’s dark and disturbing universe after my dad introduced me to “The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo” when I turned 18. I had never seen or read anything like it in my life-I’m usually a slow reader, but I read the three books in about a month and a half, where I usually take two months to read one book.
Well-as a longtime fan of thrillers, I still to this day say that his character and twisted story changed the way I forever look at thrillers as a genre.
It blew me away, so many interesting concepts and great revenge scenes that haunted me long after reading-it stands as my favorite murder mystery story ever. It also re-invented my interest in strong female characters (I had always been a fan of Lara Croft and Ripley from the “Alien” series.)
I also enjoy espionage and intrigue, movies like “The Ides of March” and “Michael Clayton.”
So for me, this story really is all my favorite genres, rolled into one epic trilogy. In a nutshell, I love these stories and perhaps even more-I love Lisbeth Salander. I just am a diehard fan of pretty much anything she’s in, I watched the three Swedish films probably four or five times (and at least watch David Fincher’s version of “Dragon Tattoo” once a year and I am so mad that it’s probably not going to continue! PLEASE Sony pictures! Continue it! Pweeeease!?) I someday hope to make my own short film starring Lisbeth-maybe someday!
I won’t make this all about Lisbeth, but she’s no doubt my favorite book character of all time-hands down, no question. She captures my imagination still and I’m 22 years old-I get all psyched like a little kid on Xmas when I read about her.
So! How does the fourth book, “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” hold up in this magnum opus? Is it better than the original three? Is it a piece of crap?
Well…it’s REALLY good!
I went into this with an open mind, knowing it wasn’t going to be Larsson, this writer would indeed have a different approach-and it would be unfair to judge it just by the author and reviews. Again-Lisbeth is in it…I’m reading it! I guess I’m a ‘fan boy’ then? Hehehe!
*cough* okay…let’s get serious!
Well-in my own words, the plot consists of Lisbeth and Blomkvist discovering a cybercriminal organization, who ends up wanting to hunt Lisbeth for hacking into their system, because the organization spies on people and is wanted for murder.
The story really begins when a man named Frans is on the verge of inventing a super computer of sorts, but he has his own issues at home. His son, August is autistic-he sometimes has a tough time dealing with his ups and downs, his ‘wife’ married an abusive jerk-plus, Frans is said to be a not so good dad, a bit neglectful.
It was GREAT to be reading about my favorite characters-the third book had come out in 2012, and four years later…I got to read of the characters I thought I never would again in a new story. I got all giddy the first time Lisbeth was mentioned (breaking the finger (or hand?) of a plastic surgeon who did some bad things to his patients was one of the first things she did in this story.) PERFECT.
Meanwhile, there’s huge plot points including, Lisbeth’s past, Zala, the abusive husband who maybe meets Lisbeth at some point, talk of savants and special needs (my favorite aspect of the story by the way) and TONS…and TONS…and TONS…and TONS…of hacking! Like…seriously, hacking, computers, keyboards, math equations to hack into more systems…and more hacking.
To end this ‘spoiler free’ section, I’ll say-if you LOVE Lisbeth and you love espionage and you love computers and cybercriminals, you will love this-read it. If a story like “The Girl who Played with Fire” is more your thing, I’d say maybe wait until you’ve read more of this-because this isn’t a gun blazing action / thriller-it’s a bit more patient. I do like it though, read it with an open mind and give David Lagercrantz (GREAT last name!) a chance! He’s a good writer-VERY different from Steig, but does a really nice job in my humble opinion. I give him a high five!
I more or less wanted to just point out a few things I personally would have changed to make this more of a ‘Lisbeth story’.
Mr. Lagercrantz-you REALLY did a good job, but these are mere suggestions, things I would have changed. First the negatives.
- Lisbeth kicks into action 200 pages in-she’s mentioned and she does things before then, but she ends up saving August (an young man with autism and is the key to unlocking the online conspiracy) from gunfire. Maybe it’s my ADHD, but I would have liked the story to open right away with Salander stalking an evil man and killing him, really kick off with a bang. Lisbeth is why I’m here-so I felt the wait was way too long for her to start kicking ass.
2. I think you missed a golden opportunity to talk about the ‘dark web’. While the espionage was cool in the plot-I think having Lisbeth maybe stumble upon violence online (pictures or video) and saving some victims would have been awesome, and exposing the evil people who run awful websites on the dark web. The dark web is a disgusting place-seeing Lisbeth get revenge on some of the psychos on there would have been cool-since the story IS about online conspiracy.
3. Remember when I mentioned that Frans’ wife married a horrible person? Well, throughout the book-he torments her and August. Hitting, yelling and drinking with his crude buddies. Lisbeth DOES indeed meet up with him-but really doesn’t do much. She tells him to leave his apartment, kicks him in the gut and sends him on his way. Okay, we had about 300 pages of this guy being an evil and monstrous a$$-I feel like Lisbeth should have REALLY done something bad to him. Like kidnapped him and cut his feet off, SOMETHING memorable. Everyone remembers Lisbeth’s guardian, Nils Bjurman and what she did to him after he sexually assaulted her. Lisbeth lives for killing men who abuse woman and children-this guy should have had a big climatic revenge scene. If Bjurman read this book he would shout “WHY DID HE GET OFF SO FREAKING EASY?!”
3. Lisbeth and Mikeal make eye contact the last two pages of the book? I thought they were gonna work together, not text and send each other emails and go after different bad guys.Now, here are the positives!
- Excellent openings for each character, Blomkvist is looking for a new case, we get a nice catch up on everyone. As mentioned, Lisbeth’s opening with the sadistic surgeon and breaking his hand-also awesome.
- 2. Loved the weather in the book-nice and dreary, it was either snowing or raining. VERY Dragon Tattoo-esque!
- The home invasion scenes with the mercenaries were genuinely scary, the thought of having some huge hitman after you in your own home is terrifying, really nice descriptions.
- It’s hard to write characters who have special needs and not make them ‘cliché’ or ‘unrealistic’-but August was an awesome character. We really saw his good points and bad-very nice balance between his mature level of thinking with math, contrasted with his in frequent temper tantrums and child-like habits, very honest and respectful portrayal
- I loved the past with Lisbeth and her evil sister-really disturbing and eye opening stuff to make us really feel the pain the main character went through-sad, but intriguing.
- MORE Lisbeth fighting people-get gruesome, get dark….it’s LISBETH! Don’t hold back!
- Lisbeth and Mikeal having face-to-face conversations and discussing deep topics such as life, what it means to be evil or good-where is the line? Get psychological.
- Make the villain ‘closer to home.’ Computer hacking is something I’m personally not involved in, so I sometimes felt distant. I think the next bad guy should be someone who everyone could meet and everyone should be scared of.I am glad I read this book though, it did help me with my writing a bit and I’m psyched to see what David has in store for us fans when the fifth book is out!