The Girl Who Takes An Eye For An Eye, the fifth instalment in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series and the second written by David Lagercrantz is a moderately entertaining quick read. I say moderately because, in my opinion, the newest Salander and Blomkvist tale falls short of expectation. So much so, in some parts, it feels more like fan-written fiction than a continuation of the story.
The key driver of the book series and Larsson’s ultimate brain-child is the complex personality of moody genius, Lisbeth Salander. From the first few pages, however, we are warned there would be no added layer or development to her character, unlike earlier books. The first few chapters lack the usual intrigue that Millennium readers have come to know. It took me reading half the book to realise that the main set-up had already been revealed and the story-line was well underway.
Sadly, Lisbeth takes a backseat in the thriller. The action is mostly not of her doing. She and Blomkvist hardly exchange a word, besides for a few sullen messages and a phone call. They only meet up once or twice in the whole book. Instead, Lagercrantz seems to focus on new characters of his own making, such as Dan, Leo, Malin and the formidable Rakel. The plausibility of these characters is a little rocky. We are meant to believe that both Malin and Rakel had deeply personal and impactful relationships with Blomkvist and Salander respectively for years before the action takes place, and yet we’ve never heard of them in the previous four books. Was Lisbeth, being the hacker genius that she is, unable to track down and unmask Rakel, one of the key drivers of her troubled child-life? Considering that she met most of Rakel’s colleagues and accomplices already, this seems incredibly unrealistic.
As well as unconvincing characterisation and forced, predictable action, Lagercrantz’s dialogue is a little hard to swallow as well. This is especially evident in Dan and Leo’s clunky and baby-like responses and reactions in their dealings with each other and Rakel, sounding more like moody teenagers than grown adults. The dialogue between Salander and Blomkvist seems detached and too mechanical.
In short, Lagercrantz has delivered a quick summer read that could be, with a simple change of names, depict a totally separate story in itself. This is mostly due to the fact that Salander and Blomkvist seem exceptionally unnecessary to the overall action. However, as this is the anticipated next chapter in the Millennium series and not a unique story, the reader is left with a bitter taste on their palate and a small flicker of regret.
Is it time for the girl with the dragon tattoo to retire?