The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.
Sadly for me, Stieg ruined my plan. I liked the novel — not an overwhelming-gush-until-I'm-blue-in-the-face amount, but enough that I'd certainly recommend it. And I'm excited to tackle the other two books in the series. (From here on contains SPOILERS. If you haven't read the novel, stop reading this post. Go read the novel, and come back and finish reading this post.) I liked it for many of the reasons it's become so popular — fascinatingly original characters; a shocking, gruesome, smart mystery; and a breakneck pace (at times). But since you've all read the novel, and already know what a bad-ass Lisbeth is and how gruesome the secret she and Mikael discover turns out to be, I want to look at another aspect of the book that I really enjoyed.
Let me explain: Ask anyone what they think of the novel, and invariably you'll get some form of "It started really slowly." It does. No denying that. The long description of the financial minutiae involved in Mikael's libel trial is pretty dull. Not a good way to get readers excited about what's to come. You know what would've been cool? If Larsson had told us the story of Harriet's disappearance as the prologue in a stand-alone scene. That would've possibly made readers more willing to forgive the first 100 pages of boredom. (And an in-scene 1966 prologue would've avoided the long, dull scene where Henrik tells Mikael the story of Harriet's disappearance. Advancing plot with dialogue shatters a rather ironclad Creative Writing 101 rule, doesn't it?)
But so after we get through the scene-setting and character-building, we spend the next 300 or so pages speeding through Mikael and Lisbeth's quest to find out what happened to Harriet — which is obviously the novel's strength and what most readers (me included) enjoy most. Then we end with 75 pages or so that wraps up the loose ends of the Wennerstrom affair, which is essentially where the novel began. The Harriet Vanger mystery is actually the rich, creamy center of the softer shell story of Mikael's journalistic revenge.
So, yeah, I liked the book. No, it's not perfect by a long shot. Remember when Mikael gets shot at, but then returns to his cottage and just stays there? That seemed like a poor choice. That's just one of several plot points that sort of stretched credulity. So, overall, I'd give it four stars.
Gimme your thoughts. What'd you like about it? What didn't you like?
(Also, I just got the Swedish version of the movie in the mail — anyone seen it?)