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Book Review: The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz (4/5)

16 Oct

I put this book off for a very long time. I knew that the Salander books were being continued by another writer, but I was nervous that I’d be disappointed by them and didn’t want to read them at first. But my mom read it and reassured me it was fine. I got a copy from a library sale and let it languish on my desk. Eventually, I caved and here we are.

Cover image via Goodreads

The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

Summary from Goodreads:

She is the girl with the dragon tattoo—a genius hacker and uncompromising misfit. He is a crusading journalist whose championing of the truth often brings him to the brink of prosecution.

Late one night, Blomkvist receives a phone call from a source claiming to have information vital to the United States. The source has been in contact with a young female superhacker—a hacker resembling someone Blomkvist knows all too well. The implications are staggering. Blomkvist, in desperate need of a scoop for Millennium, turns to Salander for help. She, as usual, has her own agenda. The secret they are both chasing is at the center of a tangled web of spies, cybercriminals, and governments around the world, and someone is prepared to kill to protect it…

I’m genuinely OK with Lagercrantz taking over this series. I was afraid it would feel too different and maybe for some hard-core fans, it is. As a fan who read the trilogy over five years ago and has seen the Sweedish films and wants to see the new English one, this was just fine. It had the same techy vocabulary and lists of street names that I remembered. I like how Lagercrantz created a new villain for Lisbeth to defeat in this one and I hope he’ll stretch it out for a few more novels.

I liked that Blomkvist is getting older. In the first three, it seemed like Larsson was writing an idealized version of himself in Blomkvist and his ability to be sexy, smart, and perpetually young stuck out (much like Robert Langdon in Dan Brown’s novels). But Lagercrantz doesn’t have the same dedication to the character and he’s much more believable. Lisbeth is as crazy and out there as ever and hasn’t changed much, which I appreciated.

August was my favorite character. I loved how this boy with a minimal ability to communicate found a way to express himself and help the people he loved. He needed to feel protected and didn’t feel that with his mother but when he could be around his father and Lisbeth, he was safe enough to let show what he could do. I adored seeing him as a strong boy and not someone who needed to be perpetually pitied.

There wasn’t much in this book I related to well. It was very distant from my life and I think that’s why I could enjoy it. It was an escapist piece for me. Really fun to read and nothing like my life. Even the ways the characters reacted weren’t things I could relate to because the situations they were in were so far from me.

David Lagercrantz
Image via Facebook

I liked Lisbeth and August’s escape from the summer home best. It was the best of Lisbeth’s quick thinking and fighting ability. Her being able to perform at that level with a child just showed how clever she was. I liked getting the story in bits from different perspectives as well.

I thought the build-up in this one was a bit slow. I can’t exactly put my finger on why, but it just seemed to take a long time to grab my attention. It seems silly to say that with how action-packed the early chapters were, but I wasn’t invested until Lisbeth was more involved.

My audiobook was narrated by Simon Vance. He’s the same man who narrated the first three in this series and I believe I listened to two of them. He doesn’t use much change in vocal tone but it’s enough that you know who’s talking in a phone conversation and he changes his accent enough that you recognized the Russian characters in this one. As is my mark with male narrators, I didn’t feel his female voices were ‘weak’ or ‘too girly.’

There’s not too much of a moral theme in this one. Stop the bad guys from killing people for money. It’s not a very noteworthy theme. Underneath it, though, Lisbeth always has more to say. She can’t stand those who don’t protect women and children. She does everything she can to help August even when his mother has given up. In today’s world, standing up for women is seeming harder and harder. We can’t give up, the same as Lisbeth.

Writer’s Takeaway: I have great respect for Lagercrantz for what he was able to accomplish in writing this book. He was able to take another man’s characters and style and still write an original book. It’s like the ultimate version of FanFiction I can think of. Mimicking another author’s style is a fun writing exercise, but keeping it up for an entire plot is really impressive.

Overall, really enjoyable and a fun read. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

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