#264 ~ The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nestby Stieg Larsson

Published by: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Published on: May 25, 2010

Page Count: 576

Genre: Thriller / Mystery

My Reading Format:An audiobook purchased using an Audible.com credit

Available Formats:Hardcover, audiobook, eBook

FYI: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest contains some graphic sex and violence.  This review will contain some references to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire.  I will keep those to the minimum.

My Review

This must have been one of the most anticipated novels of my lifetime – at least my recent lifetime.  After first reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo following immediately by The Girl Who Played With Firelast year, “What happens next?” was never really that far from my mind.  I gush about books with the best of them, but this series has a hook in me like no other.  Lisbeth Salander is a heroine like no other and is a great compliment to Mikeal Blomkvist personality.  I don’t really think that Mikeal would have made such an impression on me without the way he welcomed a misfit like Lisbeth into his personal and professional life.  Likewise, Lisbeth needs the dose of reality and trust in humanity that Mikeal brings into her life.  When The Girl Who Played With Fireleft off with Mikeal finally finding Lisbeth near death with gunshots in her hip and head, I wasn’t sure I could stand the wait.  Receiving an ARC out of the blue didn’t help matters, either.  After listening to Simon Vance narrate the first two novels, I decided that I would indeed wait until the official release date.  I survived the long wait and I must say that the eager anticipation was rewarded and, in fact, helped to enhance the experience.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is a different novel.  Instead of the action packed mysteries in the first two novels, Hornet’s Nestis slower and more deliberate in its pacing.  It is the culmination of Lisbeth and Mikeal’s involvement in the murders of Dag Svensson and Mia Johansson.  What begins is a case against Lisbeth becomes an indictment of the Swedish government and legal system.  Full of procedure and conspiracy, I was in heaven throughout.  In addition to the main storyline, Erika Berger’s character was explored more deeply in a creepy plot that made me realize just how much I cared about her. Stieg Larsson was most definitely building up to this point in the story and I am sad that I may never know what else he intended.

Of the new characters introduced in The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Anders Jonasson was my favorite.  He is the surgeon who saved Lisbeth’s life and, against his better judgement and initial intentions, becomes one of her strongest allies.  His character illustrated how, when people look at one another objectively, the truth shines through without the facts.  He is essential to Lisbeth in many ways, but it is in his professional care and concern that she is able to learn to trust another human being again.  That he is a doctor is not insignificant.  His character is in direct contrast to Peter Teleborian.

Now that I’ve finished the complete series, I am amazed at Stieg Larsson’s imagination and knowledge.  I am not certain if Reg Keeland translated all three novels into English at one time, but Larsson’s tone and dialog are consistent throughout.  I sure I can’t comprehend the talent that alone required.  This will not be the first time that I’ve said this, but Simon Vance was absolutely perfect as the narrator of this series.  He brought each and every character to life.  I have no doubt that my initial frustration with Swedish names and places would have easily been overcome by the story had I chosen to read this series in print.  I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon the audiobooks instead.  When I pick up the print copies and read passages, it is Simon Vance’s voice that I hear.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

My Final Thoughts

In my review of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, I compared Lisbeth Salander to Scarlett O’Hara. The two women and the two novels could not be more different, but they have the same impact on me.  As Hornet’s Nest came to an end, I felt the same way about the ending of Gone with the Wind.  The very last sentence has sat with me ever since, full of meaning and promise.  Just as with Scarlett and Rhett’s fate, Lisbeth’s and Mikeal’s future is wide open.  While I might very well be tempted for the first time to read fan fiction based on this series, I also relish the time I know I’ll spend once again pondering “What happens next?”   The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest immediately made me want to begin the adventure all over again.  As with Gone with the Wind, I’m sure that my opinions will sharpen and change with each reread.


Be sure to come back to The Literate Housewife Review tomorrow for my exclusive interview with Simon Vance!  In addition to getting to know him and his process, you’ll also have the opportunity to win one of three sets of two free audiobooks from Audible.com!


  • At 2010.06.24 14:55, rhapsodyinbooks said:

    So sad there won’t be any more of the series!!!

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    • At 2010.06.24 15:12, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

      You are quite the evangelist for this series! I really do need to start it soon. I can’t wait for tomorrow’s interview.

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      • At 2010.06.24 17:36, Sandy said:

        I’m on Disc 6!!! I could tell that the doctor was going to be an ally…he just told that child psychologist to take a hike and I was fist-pumping. I will be so sad when the book is over though. I have heard there is an incomplete fourth novel on Larsson’s laptop. However, if Larsson’s girlfriend and family cannot resolve their differences, it shall never see the light of day. Plus, somebody would have to come in a finish it, and I’m not sure I know how to feel about that.

        • At 2010.06.25 07:21, Jennifer-Girls Gone Reading said:

          I just read the Entertainment Weekly article about this series, and I found the background story about the author and his family fascinating and sad.

          First, I didn’t realize that Steig Larsson was also a journalist. Second, I didn’t know that the family was in disputes over his estate-of course making a lot of money after his death. And finally, his long-time girlfriend (30 plus years) claims that she has most of a fourth book on his laptop…GASP!!! Let’s hope she releases it!

          • At 2010.06.25 08:26, Stephanie said:

            I love how you compared Lisbeth and Scarlett. It would have never occurred to me to compare them but Gone with the Wind is one of my favorite books and obviously I am a big fan of the Millennium series.

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            • At 2012.01.24 23:35, Ronna said:

              I hadn’t read the books when I saw the American version of the movie of “Dragon tattoo” recently.
              I immediately made the connection between Lisbeth and Scarlett. The Lisbeth character “stuck to my ribs” like no other female character since Scarlett. Both women are strong, resourceful, intelligent – yet flawed. Lisbeth is the most memorable female literary character since Scarlett in my view: two women in different historical periods and each subject to the social norms of their time. Both made the most of their natural talents (and bent the rules) to get out of whatever desperate circumstance in which they found themselves. Scarlett was ahead of her time with her sense of independence. It is refreshing to see a modern heroine in Lisbeth who isn’t depicted as beautiful and perfect and whose charms are her principles, intelligence, and strength of character.

              I was completely hooked after I saw the film. I read books 2 and 3 within a few weeks of seeing the movie. Unlike Gone With the Wind which I think reached a satisfactory ending after following Scarlett through many years as she grew from an impetuous teenager to a mature and resourceful woman with children and multiple marriages, Larsson’s series feels unfinished to me. Book 3 ends neatly, resolving the mysteries and plots that started in book 2. But I was just getting to know Lisbeth and Mikael and in my view both still had a lot of growing to do as individuals and in their relationship with each other. Mikael and his serial relationships. Lisbeth and her inability to build and maintain relationships. They are different and also a lot alike. I wonder what arc the story would’ve taken after book 3. There’s a part of me that feels these two belong together.

            • At 2010.06.25 12:47, Jen - Devourer of Books said:

              I’ve really never been interested in this series since I heard about all the violence towards women, but you’re so enthusiastic about you’ve almost got me convinced. Of course when I finally do break down and get to it, I’ll have to go the audiobook route.

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              • At 2010.06.28 08:26, Marg said:

                As much as I loved this trilogy, it is still a bit of a disappointment that we will never know what other adventures (for want of a better word) Larssen had in mind for Lisbeth. She would have to be one of the most memorable fiction characters to come out in the last few years.

                • At 2010.07.10 20:54, Julie L said:

                  I’ve only just recently discovered your blog, and I listened to all three of the books on audio too! Loved them and Simon Vance narration – perfect! What a luck you interviewed him, he’s my favorite male narrator as well (cannot exclude the incomparable Davina Porter) and you are so correct in your reviews – I really enjoyed reading them! Thanks!

                  • At 2010.07.22 14:56, Bob in ABQ said:

                    Yes, Jennifer, Reg Keeland (real name Steven T Murray) translated them together. The publishers gave him 9 months to complete the translation and allowed almost no time for editing. BTW, both he and his wife are Scandinavian language translators of such authors as Mankell and Lackberg and very nice people. This is a great review. I thought TGWKTHN really resolved everything (except what happened to Camilla) very nicely. I didn’t mind the extra descriptions that gave insight into things Swedish. All three books (espec 2 & 3) really hooked me like no novels ever have (except maybe Scarlet Letter). My friends are growing tired of my talking abt them 🙂 The TGWTDT DVD with English dub is also great and fortunately I will be able to see TGWPWF movie this weekend. Thanks

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