A Girl in the Spider’s Web – David Lagercrantz. A review

Is this continuation of the series up to scratch?

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I’ve been meaning to review this book for a while. It’s no secret that the Millenium series are possibly my favourite books of all time, so when I found out the series was being continued I was eager to sample a new author’s take on Larsson’s intricate world.

 

Unfortunately, I don’t know if this book quite makes the grade. David Lagercrantz has enjoyed a similar career to Larsson, journalist turned novelist, and so in theory should be well-equipped to take the reins of the Millenium series. His first novel in the series left me wanting more, pining for the original style and content that made Larsson’s novels so great.

 

The story continues with the two original characters, Lisbeth Salander and Mikael Blomkvist, picking up after the events of the third novel. We are introduced to several new characters, most notably Frans Balder, a genius computer scientist who has recently returned from the USA to reclaim custody of his autistic son. The main plot focuses on Balder’s evasion of the elusive Spider Society, a group of elite criminal hackers who are after a new computer programme Balder has designed. Lisbeth’s path crosses Balder’s during her own investigations of the Spider Society, causing her to become entangled in a web of conspiracies involving high-authority figures in the NSA. Blomkvist’s role in the plot is similar to previous books; he accidentally stumbles on a ground-breaking story involving government conspiracy, Salander and her “good-guy” Hacker Republic organisation.

 

Compared to Larsson’s novels, the plot feels fragmentary and confusing. We are introduced to several characters who, to some extent, feel like unnecessary additions to the plot. The involvement of the NSA was also an issue for me. One of my favourite things about the original trilogy is that they are undeniably Swedish, in setting, characters and action. Lagercrantz seems to be attempting to make the novels more accessible to an international audience. After all, everyone has heard of the NSA and in recent years (writing of the novel started in 2013) it has been seen as something of a cultural “hot potato”. However, I feel that this detracts away from the charm of the novels, and waters down their cultural identity. After all, the inclusion of the NSA in a hacking conspiracy thriller is VERY Dan Brown.

 

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Lagercrantz introduces us to an elusive character from the original trilogy – Salander’s twin Camilla. She is everything Lisbeth isn’t. If Lisbeth is brave and selfless, Camilla is evil and self-serving. She is able to manipulate men with her beauty, and she knows exactly what she wants from them. Considering Lagercrantz was working with an almost blank slate for Camilla, he has done a good job of building the character, and I can only hope she returns later in the series. As a writer, Lagercrantz has a solid style. The main characters are (mostly) written well, and there are some good action sequences around the plot’s climax. Hopefully this means there is some hope for the next two novels in the series.

 

Overall, I enjoyed reading Lagercrantz’s first outing into Larsson’s world, but I feel he could certainly improve on the quality of the story. Considering the original Millenium trilogy was presented as an unedited manuscript and published posthumously, there should not be such a massive difference in the quality of the writing for this new novel. Lagercrantz has had time. Time to edit, re-write, plan and change. So why are we left with a novel that feels more disjointed that an unedited manuscript? Don’t let my review put you off. If you’re a fan of the original series, please read it, but don’t hold it in the same high regards as Larsson’s work.

Have any of you read the book? Let me know what you think in the comments.

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