October 29th 2018
Today I’m really struggling to get through a book I’ve been reading. I’ve been trying to finish it for, at a guess, over a year. This is my third stint at it, and I’m really not enjoying it. The problem is that I’ve started it, and no matter how bad it is, I won’t feel closure until I’ve finished it.
The book is a continuation of Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy, which started with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. After Larsson’s death in 2004 his estate allowed the saga to continue posthumously, and sold the rights to another Swedish author, David Lagercrantz.
I enjoyed Larsson’s original trilogy, so I felt compelled to continue my commitment to the series with Lagercrantz’s The Girl in the Spider’s Web. As earlier mentioned, I’m on my third attempt, and still haven’t finished it.
It’s just A) not very good, and B) not the same characters. I had the exact same problem with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in that it’s painfully obvious that this book is not written by the same author as the original canon. And I know that’s an obvious point, because in Millenium’s case, the original author is dead, but it’s just… not the same.
I get that a new author would want to bring his own style and substance to the story, but if you’re using the same characters then they should at least be… y’know… the same characters. Otherwise you should’ve just written your own book, with your own poorly rendered characters.
Aside from the changes in character personalities and speaking habits, there’s some fundamentally bad writing in the book. Or, at least, some bad translation. All of the Millenium books, including the non-Larsson sequel, were written in Swedish and translated to English by a third party. All three Larsson iterations were translated by Steven T. Murray (under the pseudonym Reg Keeland) but Lagercrantz’s follow-up was translated by a guy called George Goulding.
Perhaps the difference is not (just) in the writing, but in the translation. There are just some really poorly fragmented sentences, as well as some basic typographical errors. Though that last one is more down to the editorial team. And then there are the totally out-of-place passages that don’t really convey any message.
Like, at one point, the author describes that one of the protagonists, Mikael Blomkvist, leaves a conversation to make a phone call. But in the next line of description, it literally says “But then Blomkvist decided to make the phone call a bit later on”. Like, what was the point in that entire passage? Either I’m missing something (possible), the book is missing something (possible), or the translation is missing something (possible).
So, I’m really finding it quite difficult to continue with. Which is a shame because I am quite invested in the characters — but only their previous, canonical incarnations.
Until tomorrow, it’s a book that never should have been written in the first place.