“The Girl in the Spider’s Web” is the fourth book in the “Millennium” series of books originally written by Stieg Larsson. The original trilogy, published posthumously in 2006, took the world by storm, including a Swedish trilogy of films and a high-profile American remake starring Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. Published in 2015, “The Girl in the Spider’s Web” turns a new leaf for the series, which was thought to be concluded over a decade ago. The book was published with controversy surrounding it, as this is the first book in the series not to be written by Larsson, who died in 2004. Larsson’s life partner publicly denounced the book, citing it as a “completely idiotic choice.” New author David Lagencrantz takes the series in a completely different direction than the first three books, and surprisingly pulls it off well.
The story begins focusing on Frans Balder, a computer scientist moving back to Sweden after leaving a high-profile job in Silicon Valley. He soon finds himself in peril after being warned of imminent danger towards him and his family, posed by a criminal organization called “The Spider Society.”
When a former associate informs journalist Mikael Blomkvist of Balder’s situation for a possible story, he writes the idea off before learning that one of Balder’s associates is none other than elusive hacker Lisbeth Salander, with whom he has grown close with in the past, but has since disappeared from his life once again following the conclusion of the last book. They both embark on a journey to get to the bottom of the secrets of the “Spider Society.”
First things first: this is not a shameless imitation of the original series by Larsson, this is a new take on the highly respected series that surprisingly works, even with its flaws. Yet, Langencrantz knows exactly what readers want from this endeavor: Salander, the elusive, yet entirely magnetic anti-social hacker that the series has grown iconic from. In the introduction of the book, we’re given quite a lengthy tease of Salander, something I soon wished had been focused on for the entirety of the book. While the storyline with Blomkvist is necessary for the plot of this novel, this wonderful start makes me wish for an installment in the series focused solely on that of Salander. Here, she is present, but still used in an oddly restrained manner that left me a bit underwhelmed, but I also don’t think I will truly be happy until I have a book with Salander and only Salander.
Langencrantz picks up on the characters and their now well-known mannerisms without a hitch, one of the things that he lifts from Larsson quite wonderfully. Langencrantz also mimics the minute details of Larsson’s writing style quite well, something that was imperative in creating this book even slightly successfully. Still, Langencrantz finds his own voice in this book, with a plot that differs from the tone of the original trilogy, with a more modern and timely feel than that of its predecessors. It’s a new take on a fascinating series, that despite any inconsistencies and comparisons made to its obviously superior original trilogy, I would love to see more of.