Believe it or not, it’s my first time to consciously spell the word millennium with double “l” and double “n.” Believe it or not, I finished the Millennium trilogy in a span of nineteen days. I spent nine days for the first book, one evening and one day for the second book, three days for the last book. If I read the trilogy straight, I can finish it within two weeks.
I am a slow reader. Oftentimes, I read and pause then resume reading. With Stieg Larsson’s novel, it was hard to stop reading. I felt like I would miss a lot of events if I took a pause. My heart was pounding as I turned each page.
I read the Millennium trilogy like a mad man. I was exhausted after reading the novels that I had to gather myself to write this post. I was sleep-deprived and eating was my least priority. Each novel contains around 700 pages. It was not only the length that made me tired, the issues raised and the images were nerve-wracking. I suffered when Lisbeth Salander suffered. I fought with Mikael Blomkvist when she needed justice. On one occasion I was reading a novel when someone called out my name outside my window. I screamed out loud. I came back to my senses. The person knocking on my door was no murderer or any villainous character from the book.
Like a Last Song Syndrome, the story flashes back on my head every now and then. I can write three more blog posts about the trilogy. My blog posts would be Lisbeth Salander and I, The Women in Larsson’s novels, and Millennium: Movie Versus Book. (But they would sound redundant)
I really want to discuss further the intricacies of the trilogy. But I cannot do that without giving spoilers. Hence, I will not spill the beans. Let this review be superficial that cannot be sufficient enough to describe the actual experience in reading the novels or to commend a great storyteller.
All his books have complex plots. They have subplots in between. Within a novel, there are like two mysteries or more to unlock. It is action-packed. For every chapter, you will discover something new or something distracting.
More than anything, it touches violence against women. On The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, Larsson included some facts about women in the military and domestic violence. You can say that Larsson is a feminist. Interviews from the press stated that Lisbeth Salander is a modern day feminist. But I will not agree that reading the Millennium series is enjoyable for feminists. I would love to see men who hate women get punished but I would not be happy to know a man with principles sleeps with every woman he meets.
If there’s one word to describe Larsson and his works , it is “intelligent.” We always assume that a person who can make a published novel is intelligent. But Larsson is way beyond that. He weaves a story like no other. His brain is big enough to accommodate all these interconnections between national security, espionage, government, women, and simple crimes. He can teach you how to hack, how to make false identity and the basics of self-defense.
Aside from the mysteries, Larsson describes friendship and trust in odd circumstances. You’ll probably not find romance or love in the series. But you’ll find a special kind of partnership, friendship.
In his novels, there is no black and white and evil perhaps may be permissible. Lisbeth Salander has a different moral code. You question how you define justice. Do you let the authorities deliver justice? Or is it more fulfilling to take the role of God and punish those who need to pay?
By the end of the book, you ponder upon the ideas behind the story. Lisbeth Salander is a product of dysfunctional system in the society. You wonder how many Lisbeths are there in the world who are wrongfully judged and mistreated.
Just a short preview on what it’s like reading each book
The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo
Let me begin by saying that it is the best book among the three though I love the three books equally. For one reason, this book can stand alone. As what I said, it has everything: violence, sex, rape, ethics, morality and corruption. This is the time you can decide if you want to read the next book or be satisfied with this. If you don’t like the first book, I doubt if you will like the second or the third.
This is time when you change your perception of ideal fictional heroes as you meet investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist and legally incompetent researcher Lisbeth Salander. I happen to like them a lot that I cannot let go of Lisbeth and Mikael. I have developed some close attachment in these characters. This has driven me to read the next book, The Girl who Played with Fire
The Girl who Played with Fire
This is the most unsatisfying book among the three that you are compelled to read the last book. There are so many holes to be filled yet it is the thickest among the three. I think Larsson purposely left the holes for the readers to look forward for his third book. I felt like Larsson could have used more of his lesser-known characters in this book. It has the same themes with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo but this time politics is involved. Less sex but filled with violence which was unbearable to imagine (yet I managed to read through them). My favorite scene is how Lisbeth Salander survived in a life-threatening situation.
The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s nest
This book is about conspiracy. At this point, justice is achieved. Mikael Blomkvist becomes the hero of the book. The common complaints I hear from people who read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo are: there are too many names. It’s confusing and makes you dizzy. Well, brace yourself! The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest has more names and is the most confusing of all. There are so many connections that are difficult to trace. He also incorporated some real facts such as the past Swedish prime ministers.
There are rumors that Larsson wrote the fourth book. Though the third book ended well, there can be a lot of possibilities on what can happen next to the protagonists. With a journalist as your main character, he can always be in search for exposé. With a very introvert and secretive character, there will always be excitement to see changes in her life. I also find some of the secondary characters promising to be featured in future novels.
I arrive at the saddest moment of a reading experience. It is knowing that you have nothing to look forward from the author. They say he left his fourth book unfinished and he had the intention of having ten books in Millennium series. They say his long-time partner might continue his series or some new writer has to finish. But I feel cheated if another writer will continue his series. I believe before he started writing, he had already prophesied the fate of Millennium. No one knows about Mikael and Lisbeth more than the author.
Stieg Larsson, please come back to life. You have an unfinished business. I wish you have lived long enough, the way your characters have lived.