by David Lagercrantz
At the heart of the story is an eight-year old autistic boy, the son of a genius scientist who specializes in artificial intelligence, who is the only witness to the brutal murder of his father. The bad guys who killed Frans Balder, the boy’s father, realize too late that although young August is non-verbal and appears to be severely intellectually disabled, he is actually a savant who is perfectly capable of identifying his father’s murderer. And so the rest of the story centers around the bad guys’ efforts to do away with the boy, and Lisbeth Salander’s efforts to protect him.
On a side note, I have to comment on August Balder – or rather, the utilizing of a disabled character in fiction writing. It’s become so commonplace that it almost feels cheap to me. Here we have a disabled boy (who of course is actually brilliant, because a truly intellectually disabled character wouldn’t do – what possible value could such a character bring to a story except to elicit pity?), who, although he resides squarely at the center of the story, is nonetheless one-dimensional and stereotypical. We never actually get to know August, nor are we given an opportunity to care about him beyond the fact that men are trying to kill him. His character – and his disability – are merely convenient vehicles for a particular plotline. I just wish that authors could do better. Sadly, this is merely a reflection of society’s persistent views of people with disabilities: the disabled remain on the fringes. Even when they occupy positions central to a novel, they are rarely fleshed-out, whole people in their own right.
Read the rest of my review here.