The Girl in the Spider’s Web

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The Girl in the Spider’s Web is the fourth book in the Lizbeth Salander series. I have read and reviewed the earlier books here, here, and here.

Unlike the other three books, this fourth book is authored by David Lagerkrantz who apparently built this book from notes left by the late Stieg Larsson (the original author of the series).

When I read The Girl in the Hornet’s Nest, I got a hint of what the plot of the next book might be, and I turned out to be right in my assumption.

Book Synopsis

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.

My Review

The Girl in the Hornet’s Nest briefly mentioned a new character that sounded interesting. Camilla Salander – Lizbeth’s sister who may not be as brilliant as Salander, but is beautiful, manipulative, and evil. And she forms the crux of the story, which is a convoluted mess of intrigue involving police, the NSA, Swedish Intelligence, and hackers.

As much as I wanted to like this book, I found myself skimming through it speed-reading in the hopes of finding some sort of connect. Somehow reading this book gave me a strong sense of déjà vu. Millenium magazine is in trouble again and Blomkvist is on the hunt for the next big story that will save his magazine. Which brings me to the question. Can just one story however big still save magazines? Blomkvist seems to feel so, but I am not convinced.

His big story moment arrives when it seems that a world-famous professor in artificial intelligence wants to give him a juicy scoop. Unfortunately, he’s killed at home and his mute autistic son becomes a witness to the murder. It is then up to Blomkvist to keep the boy safe and to gently extract the truth of what happened that night.

Soon it becomes obvious that the boy August is a savant – a boy genius who can do advanced maths. Soon, August, Salander, and Blomkvist are uncovering the details of the plot.

So, like I mentioned earlier, I found this book repetitive, not because of the plot as such, but because the characters don’t grow as much. Salander, Blomkvist and the other supporting characters are pretty much the same. There is very little character development. That wouldn’t have been too bad if the newer characters such as Camilla and August were strong. But they stay cardboard cutout type of characters.

The book instead relies on a lot of action to drive the story. The action is good, but without the required character development, it doesn’t elevate this book to great status.

Another thing I disliked is all the hacking details. I work in technology and have been in the cyber-security space, so it’s not that I couldn’t understand about the algorithms and hacking principles and all that. But they really got in the way of the plot – making this an unnecessarily bloated book.

In short, I liked this book ok. A little more character development and a little less tedious detail would have made it a better book overall.

And, do I plan to continue with the series? I do, with reservations. I really do hope the next book is less superficial than this one.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Do you think it remains true to the spirit of the earlier books?

  • I read this one and was actually pleasantly surprised. I felt that since it was a different author, I liked that he kept the same character of Lisbeth and Blomkvist – although he was a little annoying throughout. I’ll try out the next book … but I agree with you about the growth of the characters – there has to be some for me to continue on (if there are more books planned).

    Tanya Patrice

    Girlxoxo.com

    • Nishita

      @girlxoxo:disqus Yes, there was the same flavor of Salander and Blomkvist. I liked that he stayed true to the original vision, but at the same time, it felt like the characters were a bit too stagnant. I do hope they evolve a bit more in the later books (if there are going to be any).

  • Karen

    I enjoyed the first book in the series, less so book number 2 and by book number 3 I was skimming (way too much detail about Swedish politics) so I’m unlikely to read book 4. You make a good point re the likelihood that one story would save an entire magazine – the publishing industry just doesn’t work that way.

    • Nishita

      @disqus_gmoXW9BOB2:disqus I agree that the first book was the best in the series.

  • In my opinion no two authors should work on the same series, especially if the one had such an impact as Stieg Larson – just check how badly penned the books are that JRR Tolkien’s relatives tried to pass as part of the Lord of the Rings universe. I still need to read the original Larson books, but I don’t think I should pick this one up 🙂

    • Nishita

      @natashastander:disqus You definitely should read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That one was really good – not just for the mystery/thriller aspects but you felt like you were really immersed into the Swedish way of life. It’s also probably the book that heralded the entry of Scandinavian crime thrillers, which is awesome.

  • Didi B.

    I have the book and I’m still on the fence about reading it. I remember reading the first 30 pages and feeling that it was very different from the other three novels. I might have to try to read again.

    • Nishita

      @didib:disqus I don’t know if it is worth it. It was an okay read, but I wasn’t wowed by it. Salander and Blomkvist just seemed to be going through the motions in this one.

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