WELL, THAT HAPPENED: The Girl with the Bankable Franchise

By on April 7, 2015
(Photo Credit: Alfred A. Knopf, inc.)

(Photo Credit: Alfred A. Knopf, inc.)

Jackson Hole, Wyoming – My first encounter with Stieg Larsson’s internationally bestselling Millennium Trilogy was on my last day visiting Ireland in 2009. I picked up a copy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo at The Gutter Bookshop in Dublin. A young, redheaded bookseller saw me flipping through the book and urged me to read it. I’d finished it by the time my plane touched American soil, and I was instantly obsessed with the Swedish crime thriller.

Of course, like many other fans of the first book, I ended up devouring the next two books (The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest), watched the Swedish films starring Michael Nyqvist and Noomi Rapace, and then groaned when David Fincher directed the American remake with Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara. Brass tacks, guys: the remake is practically a shot-for-shot of the original with a better soundtrack and weird, unnatural Swedish accents. Noomi Rapace 4 Life, yo!

The allure of these novels is undoubtedly the character of Lisbeth Salander, a tattooed, scrawny, give-no-shits hacker who has become one of, if not the most, badass female antihero in the history of literature. Partnering (in more ways than one) with the handsome middle-aged journalist, Mikael Blomkvist, Lisbeth has raced through the streets in motorcycle chases, pilfered millions from business tycoons, dodged homocide charges and committed murder on more than one occasion. And yet, we still root for her.

A famed radical journalist of his time, Larsson passed away in 2004 after turning in his trilogy of manuscripts, and the continuation of the saga of Lisbeth Salander has been a tumultuous controversy ever since. Eva Gabrielsson, Larsson’s civil partner, inherited nothing after Larsson’s death. She fought to make sure Larsson’s father and brother — who, she said, Larsson had bad relationships with — weren’t able to inherit his estate, including the rights to his novels. But, due to Swedish law, her argument was weightless and the rights went to his father, Erland, and brother, Joakim.

According to Gabrielsson, Stieg had planned to write a 10-book series about Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander. And now, thanks to Larsson’s estate and Swedish author David Lagercrantz, that series can now be a reality.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web (or Det som inte dödar oss, That Which Does Not Kill Us in Sweden) will be released in the U.S. in September.

“I increasingly felt that these characters — Blomkvist and Salander — deserved a longer life,” Lagercrantz said. “In the times we live in, where we are monitored by American authorities like the NSA, a hacker like Lisbeth Salander is needed.”

Reportedly, the story will mostly take place in the U.S. and deal with “family ties.” That could mean we’ll finally meet Lisbeth’s twin sister Camilla — something I’ve been looking forward to since I read the trilogy.

Although I cannot wait to get my hands on the new novel, I can’t help but feel some trepidation. Eva Gabrielsson has called the decision to publish a new novel “tasteless,” as it does not resemble Larsson’s intended path for Lisbeth. Although Larsson envisioned his saga to continue, how ethical is it to go full steam ahead with a dead man’s ideas without his creative input? If you’ve been reading this column, you’ve already seen my thoughts on how originality is often sidelined for familiarity in movies of an ongoing series. The Millenium Trilogy has sold 100 million copies in more than 50 countries. Nowadays, that’s cause enough to beat an original into the ground over and over again until it is lifeless.

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