Book Review

The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

The Girl in the Spider’s Web picks up the story of Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist sometime after the events in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy.  They haven’t been in touch in the intervening time period, but events are about to bring their paths together again as scientist Frans Balder contacts Blomkvist in order to share his extraordinary story.

Balder has undertaken ground breaking work in the field of Artificial Intelligence, and is being pursued by a group of cyber criminals known as the “Spider Society”.  As events spiral out of control, Salander and Blomkvist renew their partnership in order to identify the members of this organisation, whilst fighting their own battles – Blomkvist is struggling to keep control of his beloved magazine, Millennium, whilst Salander is trying to track down someone from her past.

The expectation leading up to the publication of this novel was huge.  Stieg Larsson’s trilogy has sold millions of copies worldwide, and so for someone to take on his characters – especially someone as unique as Salander – is no easy task, and I had mixed feelings as I started reading The Girl in the Spider’s Web.  On one hand, it presented the chance to catch up with some old friends.  On the other, I questioned whether or not Lagercrantz (or indeed anyone) could take Larsson’s legacy and make something successful out of it.

The result?

I enjoyed The Girl in the Spider’s Web, although it wasn’t perfect.  I found it to be a little difficult to get into, and it felt as though there was a lot of build up before the story really got going.  This isn’t helped by the writing being a little flat to begin with, and includes quite a lot of computer jargon initially.

However, when the story did get going, it became fast paced, and I began to enjoy the story more and I ended up racing through the novel to find out what happened.

In terms of the characters, I found that Lisbeth, Blomkvist were consistent with the originals.  Things had changed for them both, but no more than you might reasonably expect with the passage of time.  Blomkvist, for instance, comes across as being more fraught, but I believe that this is a reflection of his current circumstances and the stress around the potential loss of his magazine.  I thought that Lagercrantz gave additional insight into these characters without changing them significantly, and I’m grateful for that.

Overall, I liked The Girl in the Spider’s Web.  The writing lacked a certain “je ne sais quoi”, but overall this was an exciting read once the action started.  There’s scope for a sequel, and I look forward to the next stage in Salander’s and Blomkvist’s journeys.

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