I am way behind on this trend. This has been made into two different movies and was the most sold book in the US in 2010. It is among the top 20 most sold books ever and there have been at least 30 millions copies sold in 44 languages if Wikipedia is to be believed. I am not going to say anything about this that has not been said better by a number of other (better) reviewers.
I have been reluctant to read this book. Not because it is popular, I read popular books all the time. But because it has a reputation for being sexually violent book. Eventually after a number of people recommended it to me over the past couple years and enough people that I know (and that know my reading habits) told me that I would enjoy it and it was not over the line for my reading history, I picked it up at the library.
Half of me liked the book and half of me was disappointed. I liked the characters. Lisbeth is an unusual character. It is hinted that she might have Asbergers. She really does not understand people and mostly avoids them. She is the victim of horrible crimes (one very bad rape in the book and other things that are hinted at but not revealed). She is also brilliant and takes nothing from anyone.
Mikael is the main character and he is intended to be a prick. (And it seems to be a loose reflection of Stieg Larsson, the author.) A lot of people don’t like the character of Mikael. But it seems to me that he is not enough of a prick to hate and not lovable enough to really like. Which makes me think that he is the most based on real life.
The basic plot is that Mikael is asked to investigate a murder that is 40 years old as the last wish of an elderly business tycoon. Mikael is financially in trouble and his magazine is under pressure, so this seems like a perfect way to make some money, get away, and solve his business problems. The plot is intended to be the solving of the perfect crime. And as long as they are solving the crime I enjoyed the story. Once there is a resolution for the basic plot the book keeps going for way too long.
This is a pretty good book. The mystery kept me reading, and Lisbeth kept me intrigued with the characters. But it did not live up the the hype for me. I understand why it was popular, but not why it was so popular. I have to wonder if Larsson had not died before the books came out, whether they would have sold as well without the author’s story. That being said, I immediately started the second book and am about half way through it (and I am enjoying it more than the first book). So I did not hate it.