Book review: The Girl in the Spider’s Web

I was a bit surprised when this one turned up in my ‘recommended’ list. I blasted through The Girl with The Dragon Tattoo series and thought that would be the end of it since the original author, Stieg Larsson, has passed away.  This fourth outing sees Mikail Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander thrown together again for another intricately woven conspiracy which seemed to be  aimed squarely at computer geeks. The new writers, David Lagercrantz & George Goulding, have made a commendable effort, though I think they’ve possibly missed out on much the shock value of the original. I wonder if it was toned down slightly to appeal to a wider audience. The characterisations are good, and for those familiar with the originals, might seem a little bit wordy. I was left thinking, “I know all this about her”, but then I guess a lot of people this might be their first Lisbeth Salander novel, so I didn’t get too hung up on it.

the_girl_in_the_spider_webLikewise with the technical detail; no prior knowledge is assumed so the first part of the book is a crash course in computer hacking and security (with a little bit of cryptography thrown in for good measure). I did find this a little bit dull, but again that could be because I know little bit about this stuff already. Still, I’m not sure it was entirely needed, certainly not all of it.

This isn’t one of the those book that goes in for the whole ‘show don’t tell’ style of writing. It’s unashamedly a tech thriller, so you were handed all the facts about someone’s life history and personality in one easily digestible paragraph. Got all that? Good, then let’s crack on … Still, I do prefer to discover people, rather than just be handed a dossier on them.

Despite the huge cast list and the complexities of the plot, the whole piece held together extremely well. I did find myself getting lost in one or two places, but the occasional literary signpost soon had me back on track. The writing style itself was fairly stark but not at all taxing to read.

So, information dumps aside, a really enjoyable book – though I’m not sure it’s quite reached the level of the originals.

A respectable six out of ten.

Film review – Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

I seem to be on an action movie kick at the moment, so I thought I might as well finish off the round with this one. Tom Cruise (a man who clearly moisturises) is back for the fifth outing in the Mission Impossible series. The plot (not that it matters a great deal) centres around an organisation set on wreaking chaos across the globe, and destroying the Impossible Missions Force (yes, that’s what they’re called) in the process.


When you hit the fifth film in a series, the trick is not to take yourself too seriously. There are some genuinely funny moments supplied by Simon Pegg, and even Tom Cruise manages a few seconds of slapstick while trying to get into car, having just been revived from drowning. Sean Harris is very convincing as the slightly deranged villain – and thank god I’ve finally remembered where I’ve seen him before! He played the gay assassin in The Borgias! That’s been driving me mad! Anyway, he’s very, very good. A film like this lives and dies by the quality of its principle villain.

Aside from that, there’s not much to tell really. The script is fine, the action sequences are top notch, though I don’t think they’re quite as gripping as the Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, and the ending is predictably satisfying.

If you’re a fan of Tom Cruise then you’ll see it anyway; if not, then I think it’s worth a few hours of your time. It’s not too taxing, and still very entertaining. Another seven out of ten.