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The Girl Who Played with Fire by Denise Mina

The Girl Who Played with Fire

by Denise Mina

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The Girl Who Played with Fire by Denise Mina is a graphic novel adaptation to the first half of Stieg Larsson's The Girl Who Played with Fire. The primary focus is Millenium’s sex trafficking story, a tag-team between Mikael Blomkvist's and Dag Svensson, that will ferret out many well known public figures. The main character, Lisbeth Salander, plays a fairly small primary role until the end as her history becomes more involved with the main villain. Hopefully this sets up the second half of this novel.

Having only seen all of the movies (Swedish and American), and not read the original novels, I cannot say that I am a fair judge in comparing Mina’s adaptation to the original. However, I believe this to be essential since the graphic novel itself seems to be marketed for those who have not read the novels and are either just discovering the series for the first time or are avid lovers of the films. The latter describes me since I loved the Swedish films.

Story Development

Regardless of whether you view this as a standalone or as a tie-in, Mina’s version falls short of effectively building the story. I relied on my previous knowledge of the characters in order to keep up with the story, which would be frustrating to a new reader who may feel as if they were missing some pieces, which they are. Mina’s story-telling style is also fairly rapid, which is not helped by some of the action scenes. My suggestion is to either read the original novels or watch the movies before venturing into this series. Considering the task it must have been to condense the novel into two graphic novels, the graphic novel stands out. Mina does a fantastic job with this in regards to her artists’ work, but I’ll get to that below. My hope is that Mina strings together all of the details in the second graphic novel so the reader isn’t as confused.


Wow! The gritty and dark style of the graphic artists fits the story perfectly as the drawing style is both crude and detailed. Characters and scenes are created through a very basic outline, which is complemented through the use of shadow and light. Obviously this would mean that dark, sinister, and dangerous characters or events are cast in shadow while the “happy” moments are shown as bright and colorful. I say “happy” because this series does not exude warm and fuzzy feelings or endings…. An example of the artistry style is during a scene where the Millenium staff are discussing their upcoming publication. This scene is fairly lively and colorful, despite the context of their publication. Conversely, scenes involving Nils Bjurman, the pig that he is, are displayed in such a way as to evoke dead and fear in the viewer to capture his villainy.

I also enjoyed the artists’ use of image to tell the story. This novel contains many flashback scenes without much dialogue, which is effective in a story like this where you gain perspective from the scenery and the actions of the characters. Mina’s crew did a great job and it was my favorite part of my experience.

Overall, The Girl Who Played with Fire is an exciting piece because it is bringing alive a story that many of us have come to love. All fans should enjoy this novel as another venture in the Millenium series and appreciate the hard work that both Mina and her crew put into the creation of these adaptations. The shortfall of the novel, in that it can leave the reader behind, may be enough of a deterrent for some who do not want to feel obligated to revisit the original novel to maintain the storyline. It also lacks that true “Wow!” factor when you pull the whole thing together which means that the avid reader may miss that rush of intensity that is inherent to the series. However, it is creative and explosively new to those others who are along for the crazy ride.
  QueenAlyss | Jun 3, 2014 |
This was the graphic novelization of the second book in the Stieg Larsson’s Girl Who series, and I really, really liked it. Even more so than the first two graphic novels that were the novelization of the first novel in the series.

This has all the same stories as the novel did. Dag Svensson and his expose about sex trafficking, the Bjurman and Lisbeth stuff, not to mention a ton more about Lisbeth’s past. Weirdly in this version of the novel the intensity seemed higher than even in the novel or the Swedish version of the movie.

Some of the characters didn’t look exactly like I thought they would, and the art was a little rougher than I like, but the story more than made up for the art. There were even a lot of pages with no dialogue on them at all. And I did think those mostly worked really really well.

A very good adaptation of the novel.

I got this advanced galley through Netgalley on behalf of DC Entertainment. ( )
  DanieXJ | Jun 3, 2014 |
Perhaps for a die-hard fan of this series this would be appropriate; however, it was a bit slow, trite, and melodramatic for me.

The graphics were well wrought though. ( )
  catya77 | Apr 18, 2014 |
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Happy Birthday, Lisbeth.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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