Guys, I’m begging you. Don’t even bother with this series, whether or not you’ve read the original trilogy. If you’re a fan, it’s just going to piss you off. And if you’re a noob, you’re just going to wonder why everyone is obsessed with this piece of crap story. Denise Mina absolutely ruins her adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy, and the worst part is, it seems to have been done on purpose.
I read Vol. 1 of this series last year, which adapted the first part of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo into graphic novel form. I was not impressed. In fact, I was slightly angry and one-starred that fucker. I didn’t think I was going to bother reading Vol. 2, but with my unfortunately OCD completionist nature, and the fact that it popped up on a ‘recently arrived’ shelf at my library, I made the impulse decision to give it a go.
First things first, I completely understand that when adapting a story for a different medium, it’s sometimes (oftentimes) necessary to change, move or truncate things to work in said new medium. I am not opposed to favorite stories of mine being adapted in such a way as long as the person doing the adapting is faithful to the themes, ideas, and characters that make up the original. To use a recent example, the Hunger Games books are favorites of mine, and despite changes and deletions in the first and especially second movies, I love the films as well as the books because they have different things to offer concerning the same story. To use an even more relevant example, David Fincher changed some things up in his film version of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, but I didn’t mind any of them because the overall feel of the story and characters was more important than individual details.
After my first experience with Mina’s adaptation skills, I had charitably decided that she was either shit at adapting things, or was just sort of dumb. I say this was charitable because my opinion of her now is that’s she’s a fecking idiot, and kind of an arrogant asshat to boot. Because it’s not that she’s shit at adapting (although I think that might also still be the case). She deliberately chose to change key aspects of the story and the characters because she didn’t like them. First of all, only a dick agrees to adapt a series that features characters she doesn’t like. Perhaps this is cynical, but I feel like only a dick would see the opportunity to further their own careers and “fix” the mistakes of the original text. A rational, less dickish sort of person would have said, hmmm, maybe since I don’t like this book series, I SHOULDN’T FUCKING ADAPT IT.
I came to this realization shortly after finishing Vol. 2, when Google informed me that Mina had done a panel at the Edinborough International Book Festival where she was there, ostensibly to celebrate the release of this book. I say ostensibly, because at least the way that write-up makes it come across, she seems more intersted in elaborating on the flaws of the source material, how she made it better, and I QUOTE claiming that Stieg Larsson would have been “happy” with all the changes she made. Changes, I might add, that involve: Mikael being called ‘Mikey’ (relatively trivial); removing Lisbeth falling in love with Mikael completely, including a scene where she literally tells him, “I’m not going to fuck you anymore because I miss my girlfriend,” and other stuff I can’t even remember because it caused me to rage blackout. But most of it was complete character assassination.
That assertion deserved its own paragraph. Mina’s Mikael is a pathetic, uninteresting middle-aged sap who barely has any agency. Granted, his penchant for sleeping with anything that owns a vagina is a problem, but an acknowledged one by the text. But because Mina just doesn’t like him, she completely undercuts him as a serious character and he comes off not only like a womanizer, but a stupid and unkind one at that. Mina’s Lisbeth. UGH. I can’t even type it. Mina’s Lisbeth is a sappy hardcore rocker with hardly any issues at all. As detailed in my previous reviews, Mina softens the fuck out of her character, having her cry, not beating people up she full well kicked the shit out of in the books, and unlike the real Lisbeth, she is almost completely emotionally available. She isn’t Lisbeth Salander at all.
And Mina’s dialogue is fucking terrible. To the point where reading it, I was wondering if Mina had ever met an actual human being. The way her characters talk, she must associate only with robots, and not even the cool kind.
This is probably one of those reviews that shouldn’t have been written. It’s very unprofessional. It’s a full-on rant. If Denise Mina ever reads it, she will probably be insulted. I feel bad about that potential outcome, but at the same time, she showed so very little respect for the material she was adapting here that a respectful review didn’t feel like the way to go. Instead I went the way of the real Lisbeth. Like, fuck it. I wanna light this shit on fire.