Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest continues the Millennium trilogy, following The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Pla...moreStieg Larsson's The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest continues the Millennium trilogy, following The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played with Fire. There's not much to say about this third installment. Same characters, partially good writing, a lot of coffee references. (It looks like the characters take caffeine pit-stops, in the same way cars would be refueled but much more often; this is a definite plus.) We also get incredibly happy coincidences, incompetent internal police services, and completely unbelievable accounts of the juridical system. We also get a resolution on all the problems raised in the first two installments of the series, perhaps with the exception of the sister-to-sister relationship regarding one of the main characters. The story is partially served by the interesting comments on the relationship citizen-state, and partially on the woman's role in the modern society. Overall, not a valuable use of this reviewer's reading time.(less)
Stieg Larsson's The Girl who Played with Fire continues the Millennium trilogy, started with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The book has again the c...moreStieg Larsson's The Girl who Played with Fire continues the Millennium trilogy, started with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The book has again the common traits of spy/murder thrillers. We see again Salander (the girl) and Blomkvist (the journalist) entangled in an international story of espionage. We get again solid writing and the occasional story twist. We even get some believable characters and sub-plots. However, the story becomes more of a tele-novella. It's the Russians the main characters are fighting against. One of the characters finds out about and fights against long-lost family. The heroes take part in fast and furious love stories, fast and furious chases, and fast and furious coffee consumption. In fact, for this reviewer the only thing that saves this second installment of the Millennium trilogy is the interesting presence of coffee in the lives of virtually every story protagonist. To conclude: still a good read, but too cliched and overall an abuse of the attachment to the characters wonderfully built in the first part of the Millennium trilogy. (less)
[Disclaimer: I am not a big fan of mystery/thriller/crime novels. I also don't usually watch movies on this topic.] [Second disclaimer: I opened this...more[Disclaimer: I am not a big fan of mystery/thriller/crime novels. I also don't usually watch movies on this topic.] [Second disclaimer: I opened this book mostly because I've been flashed so many times with ads about it that I wanted to check. I don't regret it.]
Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a typical thriller: the main character solves the all-important mystery with the help of associates found while investigating. However, both the writing and the story are good, which makes the book impossible to put down. How does The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo do it? First, the complexity of what could seem in the beginning a trivial approach. The main character is actually a double figure (the journalist Mikael "Micke"/"Carl"/"Kalle" Blomkvist and "the girl" Lisbeth Salander). And the all-important mystery is actually a triple count (the W. investigation, the H. investigation, and the girl's own issues). And the associates are mainly the main characters, which find each other. Second, the introduction of modern themes into the story; we read about the power of the state in rapport with its citizens, the importance of privacy, the rights of minorities (women, gay and lesbian), old and new-age sexuality (out-of-marriage relationships and bondage, among others). Third, the placement, (mostly) a contemporary European society. Fourth, the quality of the thriller itself; the characters are believable, the story grows in complexity as you read, the attention to detail is evident, the cracks/quips enlighten the writing, etc. On the negative side, foreshadowing and a healthy dose of cliches diminish the thrill of reading. Overall, a surprisingly good and novel read.
Background: I've re-read The Quiet American to get in touch again with the Greenesque touch before starting The End of the Affair. The Quiet American...moreBackground: I've re-read The Quiet American to get in touch again with the Greenesque touch before starting The End of the Affair. The Quiet American is as difficult to categorize as it was easy to read. Apparently, the book is about Mr. Fowler, the morally corrupt British reporter who will recount us the story, and Pyle, the American under-cover agent that everyone knows to be an under-cover agent; the two are involved in the French-Vietnamese war and in the personal war of getting the same Vietnamese girl. In its elusive depth, this book includes three story lines, the mystery of Pyle's murder, the psychological insights on Mr. Fowler, and the reportage on a war that involves the civilians. Each of these story lines is delicately built and presented; a description of each story line is beyond the purpose of this review. For me, the main appeal of Graham Greene comes not from his undeniably wonderful phrasing ("The hurt is in the act of possession: we are too small in mind and body to possess another person without pride or to be possessed without humiliation."), good humor ("I never like giving information to the police. It saves them trouble."), and skillful misenscene. Instead, it is his articulation of the characters that draws me: Mr. Greene thinks and speaks like Fowler, and Pyle, and several other characters, in this writ alone. On the negative side, perhaps each story line would have deserved more text in this book, or even a separate book. To conclude, a very enjoyable read, perhaps a bit too short for the three stories within.(less)
The Ruined Map is a tough call. As a labyrinthine mystery book, the book presents the job of a private detective looking for a woman's lost husband; h...moreThe Ruined Map is a tough call. As a labyrinthine mystery book, the book presents the job of a private detective looking for a woman's lost husband; here, Kobo Abe demonstrates his ability to write well yet another genre of books. As a carrier of the internal anguish of the modern man, this same book becomes often impenetrable; here, the author has failed to make his language fully comprehensible. To conclude, an interesting but difficult read. (less)