Friday, September 25, 2015

Book Review: The Girl In The Spider's Web

There's a new book out on the #1-book-that-people-are-talking-about list and it's not Jonathan Franzen's Purity. It's...well, geez, it's not even the book that this review is about. For some reason people are still obsessed with that garbage about Mars. Anyways, today we review the never-anticipated and perhaps superfluous 4th book in the Millennium Trilogy.

Trilogy is, of course, from the Greek "trident" which was Neptune's (god of the sea) favorite chewing gum. He liked it so much he would always eat three pieces at a time. Plus, they are small pieces so just one isn't enough. But if you can't brush after a meal, chew Trident. Xylitol is good for your body and large quantities definitely won't have an impact on your bowels.

Wait, so if trilogy is three pieces of gum, why did David Lagercrantz write a fourth piece of gum? You'll have to read on to find out (spoiler: money grab).

Quick History Lesson

No, not your dad's boring history! This is a fun history like on History Channel. Like, Nazi mega-weapons, secret alien societies, CIA moonbase history.

So, The Millennium Trilogy is the collective name for the three novels written by Stieg Larsson. These are pretty popular books. I'll bet you already know them and may have even read them. They were also made into 3 Swedish movies and 1 American movie. They are about a girl who has a dragon tattoo, plays with fire, and kicks a hornet's nest. And also a news paper reporter. (*ahem*) Oh, excuse me, investigative journalist.

This is important because Larsson himself was an investigative journalist IRL AFK and he was into some pretty hairy stuff and accrued quite a few enemies. Then one day he "mysteriously" dies of a "heart attack" while "walking" up some stairs to his "apartment." The novels were published posthumously. It is tempting to draw parallels between Larsson's real life and the events in his books.

Transition To Today (not like, today-today, but current-times-generally today)

Now, 5-slash-8 years later (USA/Sweden publication) we get a fourth book that continues the exciting excitement of the thrilling thrillers. Presumably. I really enjoyed the original trilogy and therefore was excited to be thrilled once more. And so were about a thousand other people in this fine city judging by the library's wait-list. Luckily, I got an early bid and was among the first to receive a copy.

Just Who Is This David Lagercrantz Fellow Anyways?

The new author of the new book is a Swede who goes by the name David Lagercrantz. He is the talent behind such fine written stories for instance such as Där gräset aldrig växer mer, Stjärnfall, and the perennially popular Syndafall i Wilmslow. And as a super fan of Stieg's he decided to take an established popular fictional world and write his own continuation of events using the same world and characters. Gee whiz, that sounds an awful lot like fanatic fiction, aka fanfic. I hope this is a deeper and more heartfelt effort than fanfic. Although, isn't fanfic the deepest and most heartfelt fiction there is? 

What Exactly Is Fanfic?

"For Stephanie Meyer so loved the world she gave her only begotten Twilight so that it shall be re-written as 50 Shades of Grey. Jesus wept." -- Blazeit 4:20

That's not a real Bible verse, fyi. So anyways, fan fiction is when a normal person who doesn't normally publish written word professionally decides to write a story based on existing characters and environments created by someone who is usually payed to professionally create such things. And these fan stories usually stay tucked away in a MSWord document someplace or maybe on some obscure web bulletin board where like-minded fanatics can share in the pleasure of extended storylines to their favorite fictional characters. I mean, I guess you could also author fanfic based on real life people so the original story doesn't have to be fictional but the resulting story is fictional. 

[Oh, wait, I should have prefaced this all with: if you are in fourth grade and/or still get confused over fiction and non-fiction just remember that fiction = fake, and non-fiction = not-fake, or, really real.]

Do you think there's a market for fan non-fiction? Like, amateur biographers making poorly written histories of people or events they admire. I guess that's kind of like bloggers. I'm blowing my mind right now. I've been writing fan-non-fiction all these years and not even knowing it. Time to update that résumé!

Why All This Talk About Fanatic Fiction?

You're a smart reader. You can put two and two together, too. But just in case there are any fourth graders still reading: The Girl In The Spider's Web by David Lagercrantz is fanfic that got published under the guise of a fourth novel to what should have remained a trilogy.

The book is not good. The story is not intriguing. It does nothing to further the characters. It is not particularly well written. It is fanfic. Or a desperate author trying to shoe-in on proven success, not to honor the original story, but to accumulate personal wealth.


Lagercrantz has the blessing of Larsson's brother and father to publish this book. And that is important because they are the inheritors of the estate of Larsson and his properties. However, Larsson's widowed-fiancée, Eva, is opposed to Lagercrantz's publication. I bring this up only to point out that there are two factions regarding TGITSW: those who think it should exist, and those who don't. 

Before reading TGITSW I was pro-TGITSW. After reading it, I am anti-TGITSW. Some things in life are complete and should be left alone. (this is where I should link to an article about pizza with cheeseburger crust)

The Book Itself

It has a cool cover. It's shiny and a little iridescent and is graphically congruent with the original American covers. The book is of medium thickness and light in weight--perfect for throwing in your sack to bandy about town. The pages feature a deckle edge, which seems pretty hot in contemporary fiction these days. 

It's 416 pages for $17 on Amazon.

Did someone say poorly written? Yes, I did. Some of the grammatical stuff may just be the translation. This may be a masterpiece of words in its original Swedish. I doubt it, though. And besides the language itself this read like a pan-shaped vanilla cake with no icing compared to Larsson's MySuperSweet16 cake shaped like a Lamborghini. 

I can't tell if Lagercrantz was trying to make it his own, or simply ignored style cues in the originals. Lagercrantz might write something like "Lisbeth hacked the computer terminal and it really impressed the unhygienic NSA computer nerd with how good she must be at hacking computers."

Whereas Larsson would have written like "Lisbeth reached into her jet-black Pierotucci Italian leather backpack and pulled out her Apple Macbook Pro with Intel i7 3.4GHz 8-core processor and 16GB DDR4-2400 RAM. She had been working on a program in C++ that could bypass all encryption protocol on the WAN without being detected by spoofing bit-level packet echoes in the chaos chamber of the satellite's laser modulation syntax script." etc etc.

This book contains nothing in common with The Millennium Trilogy except the names of the characters. 

Other Thoughts

Title: I know it needs continuity with the first 3, but when are we going to get over putting "Girl" in the title of novels? The Gone Girl On The Train With The Pearl Earring In The Spider's Web. It's like putting "(dmb acoustic)" in the title of your song to trick people into downloading it on Napster.

Free Association: Girl in the Spider's Web Mikael Blomqvist journalist newspaper Peter Parker Spiderman. (This media-studies master thesis is practically writing itself.)

Bourne Identity: Robert Ludlum wrote The Bourne Trilogy and died. Then Eric Van Lustbader picked up the torch and is fanfic-ing Jason Bourne in perpetuity. I see the same unfortunate fate for Dragon Tattoo.


If you're the kind of person that will finish a book even though you're not enjoying it, then this book is for you. If you're a die-hard fan of Lisbeth Salander and will follow her to the ends of the Earth despite what other people tell you, then this book is for you. If you're a completionist then this book is for you.

If you don't like wasting time on not-good things and are okay with taking the word of someone else without having to find out for yourself, then this book is not for you. If you are a lover of words, literature, and storytelling then this book is not for you. 

A lot of substance-less thrillers make for good summer/casual reading. I can't really tell you what to do, but lets just say there are a lot of book-fish in the book-sea. It's okay to book-throw one back sometimes.

Rating: 3/10  -  It has words that will make your brain form images of things happening and consequently pass time. Would not read again.

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