Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden’s wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pierced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.
Review: I chose to review this version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because I loved the Stieg Larsen novels and because I love a good story told in graphic art. This is a win-win all the way around. The story was superbly told (the story, not the movie – there are some subtle differences). However, because I am making comparisons, there might be a spoiler or two in here if you have not read the book or seen either movie. (I’ve seen only the Swedish film so that’s where any contrasts I offer will come from.)
First and foremost in a graphic novel is the artwork. That is what draws us to the novel, gets us to open the cover, and begin reading the first page. The artwork in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is exceptional. At times dark and brooding, the art takes us into Lisbeth’s world of violence and underground computer hackers. And this was the real crux of the story – the abuse she suffered as a child which then reached out to her as an adult. Our first view of Lisbeth is with her eyes downward. In fact, her eyes are kept downward for several frames – an introduction to her shyness and lack of people skills.
At this point in the novel, we have only touched on her childhood. However, the rape of Lisbeth by her guardian is brutal. I’m not sure which was worse – watching the rape between live actors in a movie, or seeing it in graphic art splayed out on the page. My eyes kept getting drawn back, looking for more detail. I think it’s like that wicked car crash on the highway where you don’t want to look but you can’t help it, and you tell yourself you’re just making sure everyone is okay – even if you know otherwise.
In comparison, the pages brightened to snow-filled days and candle-lit dinners for Mikael’s scenes. Mikael, attempting to solve a murder from 1966, delves into a family history that is twisted and bent unlike no other family tree. One thing the graphic novel does that the movie skimmed over is offer a more detailed explanation of how Mikael Blomqvist ended up in prison and giving up the reins on the financial magazine he co-published.
One of the problems, though, is that this is only a segment of the novel. DC Comics/Vertigo is publishing each book in the Millenium Trilogy in two parts, and therein lays the problem. I just don’t see how a 600+ page book can be successfully condensed into half that. I am, however, anxious to find out and will be picking up Part II as soon as it comes out. I would recommend this book for those that like to see/read alternative interpretations of their favorite books, but I would not suggest that the graphic novel be read in place of the original book by Stieg Larsen.