the girl with the dragon tattoo

the girl with the dragon tattoo
Yes, I have a dragon tattoo as well

Παρασκευή, 28 Αυγούστου 2015

Salander returns: "The girl in the spider's web" book review

It feels weird, at the beginning, to read a book about Salander, written by another writer. I went through the first pages of "The Girl In the Spider's Web" with an eery sense of loss. The differences are quite obvious: Lagercrantz's style is completely devoid of Larsson's quirks, which made his writing so personal - even though flawed. It's no secret, Larsson was no literary giant. In this book by Lagercrantz we are rarely told what kind of sandwiches our protagonists eat, for example, or how much coffee they drink, which was a silly habit Larsson had - yet now, when not there, it seems endearing. Lagercrantz is different. He is relentless. He is pummelling on the story hard and pretty soon you hop along for the ride and carry on.

Still, there are things you miss. Larsson understood women really well, for example. Lagercrantz... not so much. Lagercrantz's portrait of Salander is consistent with Larsson's, of course. He even goes as far as inventing Camilla's backstory (Salander's sister),  which is a very smart move on his part. Camilla appears to be Salander's nemesis, a move that gives ground for new stories to unravel and (it could be) enough material for quite a few next books, it seems.

But what Lagercrantz's Salander lacks, is internal conflict. Larsson's portrait of Salander was so compelling, because Larsson's intuitive writing painted Salander from inside out. He was writing as if he was in Lisbeth's head. Lagercrantz, on the other hand, has written Salander from outside, in. Our insight of what triggers her, comes from her actions, or from other people's accounts or her actions. We do not spend a lot of time inside Lisbeth's head at all. Which is a pitty.

You see, writers like Lagercrantz are great at building plot and conflict, yet they do not handle emotions very well. Lisbeth in Larsson's hands felt real. As tough as she appeared to be, Larsson did not forget that Lisbeth was above all else, a person with a huge internal struggle and emotional conflict. Lagercrantz's Lisbeth is more dry, more determined, and she does not question herself at all.

All in all, Lagercrantz's is a decent effort to keep Lisbeth Salander's legacy alive. I certainly felt I needed to follow her story, as I went through Lagercrantz's book. And I would read a next novel by the same writer, handling the same heroine. But not with great enthusiasm. I just hope that next time he won't be afraid to give us a better glimpse inside Lisbeth's head.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars