Mr. Lagercrantz is doing a wonderful job. It would be hard to imagine a sequel more faithful to its work of origin than this one, which emulates the spirit and style of the initial trilogy—with its determinedly self-sufficient heroine and dogged journalistic investigator, its focus on abuse of power and its bracing explorations of evils old and new ... Salander emerges as the most dramatic, charismatic and effective investigator of them all: weak in social skills but unmatched in speaking blunt truth to corrupt power; wary of having friends but laden with admirers; adrift in an intellectual world all her own but unrelenting in defending underdogs; hellbent on binding her own physical and psychic wounds. 'Why was she not like other people?' frets the police inspector and would-be protector. But readers wouldn’t want her to change one bit.
Salander shines as bright as ever in The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye, but the plot often keeps her and Blomkvist separate, resulting in an unfortunate deficit of the vibrant (if uneasy) chemistry the two shared in Larsson’s trilogy. And Blomkvist fades a bit here, as Lagercrantz feels more devoted to the characters of his own creation, Mannheimer in particular. Society’s ills drive Lagercrantz’s writing much the same way they did Larsson’s. The original trilogy laid the story across a complex backdrop of injustice, government corruption and pervasive masculine violence. Lagercrantz added privacy concerns and government surveillance to the mix in his first entry, while this one revolves around racism, religious fundamentalism and questions about genetics vs. environment. Like The Girl in the Spider’s Web, this book is a worthy successor to Larsson’s trilogy. But The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye also feels like a tipping point, in which Lagercrantz begins to march the saga in a direction all his own.
Larsson had grand ambitions for his Millennium series, projecting a total of 10 novels. In Lagercrantz's hands, the series is realizing grand ambitions of another sort. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for An Eye intensifies the mythic elements of Larsson's vision. All the talk of stolen babies and a 'search for origins' in this novel - along with the malevolent influence of Salander's evil twin, Camilla - moves the series further into the realms of Star Wars and Harry Potter. A little of this legendary stuff goes a long way in Salander's hard world ... The enduring draw at the center of the Millennium series is that image of a strange and solitary young woman trying to even the score with all manner of bullies by dint of her brains and, when called for, some martial arts moves. A bit far-fetched, certainly, but it's rooted in the just barely possible. The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye is entertaining, but 'the girl' at the center of this wild tale is beginning to look like somebody we readers only used to know.
That Salander feels like an afterthought is the most frustrating thing about the exhaustingly titled Eye, which otherwise delivers an engrossing, if low-stakes, mystery ... it’s when Lisbeth is released from prison that she unfortunately goes M.I.A., with much of the novel’s second half devoted to subplots involving identical twin brothers Leo and Daniel, and Faria, whose strict Muslim family comes between her and the love of her life. Neither story has great emotional payoff and both distract from the central duo of Lisbeth and Mikael, whom readers have been invested in for four prior books ... Where Lagercrantz succeeds is in diving further into Lisbeth’s backstory, revealing the heartbreaking origins of her emblematic dragon tattoo and fleshing out her father-daughter relationship with ailing former guardian Holger Palmgren, in a passage that is genuinely moving. And while there may not be nearly enough of her in the story, the glimpses we do see are imbued with a grit and gumption that would make Larsson, who died in 2004 before the series' staggering success, proud.
The Girl Who Took an Eye for an Eye is billed as the revelation of the appalling things done to Salander when she was a child, but the narrative meanders between a bewildering array of storylines that never come together. The story starts with Salander in prison for unconvincing reasons. When she does wander on to the page, she gets beaten up or does stuff on her computer, but remains ghostly and uninhabited ... The reader is repeatedly told that Salander and Blomkvist are driven by a desire for justice, but because we spend so little time in close-up with the book’s heroine, it is not convincing. There is a sluggishness to the plotting and much of the tension relies on orchestrated interruptions and delays, which irritate. Lagercrantz has all the elements of the Millennium series at his disposal, but the adrenaline is missing: it feels as if one has gone to a restaurant, ordered a rare steak and been served soggy fish fingers instead.
Once again, Lagercrantz succeeds in carefully staying true to the framework created by the late Stieg Larsson in his original trilogy, and fans can continue to follow their favorite hacker heroine from obscurity to notoriety to unsought fame and unwanted attention. Through all Salander’s struggles, she exudes stalwart integrity, razor-like methods, and a concealed past ... In this new world where everything is suspect, including proclaimed facts, it is the dragons that protect and avenge the downtrodden.
Lagercrantz, Larsson’s appointed heir, does serviceable work in all this, and if his version lacks some of Larsson’s ironic touch and politically charged contempt for the nasty undercurrents flowing beneath Sweden’s clear waters, he doesn’t falter in the mayhem department. Tattoo artists will be interested in the as-if-born-in-fire origins of Lisbeth’s body art, while fans of Larsson, while perhaps not thrilled, certainly won’t be disappointed.
[an] excellent second contribution to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series ... Eventually, these twisting plot lines tie together in this complicated, fascinating mystery. As a bonus, readers learn the meaning of the dragon tattoo on Lisbeth’s back.