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The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (Graphic Novel) - Book Review

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by Jennifer Muirhead (subscribe)
I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma. ~ Eartha Kitt
Published April 16th 2013
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This graphic novel is based on the bestselling crime novel of the same name by Swedish author Stieg Larsson. It has been adapted by another bestselling crime writer, Denise Mina, author of the graphic novel Sickness in the Family, and illustrated by Leonardo Manco and Andrea Mutti. Each of the three books in the Millennium Trilogy (books two and three are The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest) will be published in two hardcover volumes.

If you have been living under a rock for past five or so years, The Millennium Trilogy has been a huge hit, and has been adapted into films in both Swedish and English. The first book is the complex tale involving the murder, in 1966 of a sixteen year old girl named Harriet, apparently killed by a member of her own wealthy family. Many years later Harriet's uncle, Henrik Vanger, hires disgraced finance journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, to investigate her murder while ostensibly writing a history of the Vanger family. Meanwhile young Lisbeth Salander, the eponymous tattooed girl who works as a researcher for a private investigator, is hired to do a report on Blomkvist. Their paths cross when Salander digs up dirt on the shady businessman who led to Blomqvist's downfall. It's full of interesting twists and turns that will keep you guessing until the end.

The story seems to be pretty faithful to the original book, but there is less background about who the characters are and how they know each other. There is also no information about what they are thinking beyond what you can tell from the dialogue and the art. There is still enough to make sense of what is happening but I felt that something important was lost by taking away the characters' internal monolgues. Perhaps that's just because I read the novel first, in the same way that movie adaptations never seem to be as good if you've read the book they are based on. A few scenes have been changed in minor ways but there is nothing too drastic.

The art is impressive. I particularly love the depiction of Salander and the way her look changes from what she wears to work to the outfit she wears when trying to look respectable. Minus her piercings and with her half shaved head and her tattoos covered by clothing she looks vulnerable, which in some ways she is. I didn't care for the cover, showing Salander naked (though with her back to the viewer) because it seemed to focus unnessarily on her sexuality, which really isn't the point of the book at all. I much prefer the version from the paperback, where she just just looks fierce and determined. This fits with my mental picture of the character.

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Cover of the paperback novel.

The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo doesn't translate perfectly into the graphic novel format, but it's a pretty good adaptation which should please fans of dark, gritty comics and anyone who enjoyed the Millennium novels.

Rated: 7/10
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