The focus of my blog is to review book series and not individual novels. But writers are going to continue writing novels within a series even after I have done my review, so I plan on reviewing the individual novels as they come into circulation. David Lagercrantz has recently added book #5, The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye to the Millennium series.
David Lagercrantz has a tough job. He is having to step into the shoes of the late Stieg Larsson whose Millennium series has become an international success. No matter how good any of his books may be, he will always be compared to Larsson. Personally, I think he is trying very hard to follow the spirit of Larrson’s writing, but no matter what, this has now become his series. But it not just being compared to Larsson and the pressure of writing a great story that makes Lagercrantz’s ability to take over this series so difficult, it is something more profound.
The Millennium series has become successful not because Larrson had a really great story to tell, but it is successful because he created the girl with the dragon tattoo, Lisbeth Salander. Salander is a super hero that with the exception of her brilliance doesn’t have any super powers. It is the keystroke of a computer and her abilities to use it that makes her very powerful. She is a hero to all the individuals that have been abused and suppressed, especially women. She is not voluptuous or anywhere near to what we think as being traditionally feminine. She wears unflattering clothing, is unconcerned at how she appears, yet she radiates a beauty that is exceptional. She is the voice for millions of women who have no voice. This is why Lagercrantz’s job is so hard, he has to keep alive a character that has become a legend.
So has Lagercrantz been successful in presenting the Salander mystique in The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye? It seems he is trying but I feel he is missing the mark. For one, Salander’s weapons are her mind and her computer, yet Lagercrantz has her beating up a character using moves that would make Bruce Lee proud. One of the endearing features of Salander is that she is most formidable when she is on a computer, still Lagercrantz made this physical fight one of the highlights of the novel. Also, many other reviewers have complained about the lack of Salander’s presence through most of the novel. Without Salander any Millennium novel will be nothing more than a typical thriller, Salander is what makes it special.
Overall I thought the storyline was interesting and I enjoyed The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye as a thriller. However, there needs to be more of Lisbeth Salander doing what she does best–hacking.
To learn more about the series check out the The Millennium series.