I finally got around to this book. It was on the list for awhile because it got so popular so fast, and that was also the reason that I never made a huge effort to read it. I was curious why it took off the way it did, but I was also a little wary of it because some other things that have rocketed to the top of the bestseller list have been absolute crap.
This is not the case with this book.
At book club, where we discussed the book before I had finished it, someone else who hadn't read it yet asked why it was so popular.
In my opinion, for two reasons.
1) It has a little bit of everything, which makes it appealing to a lot of people.
2) It's an exceptionally well plotted mystery.
For example, it's dark, it's thrilling, there's some gore, lots of casual sex which I'm sure appeals to all the men. I mean really, what man doesn't want to have the relationships that Mikael has? He sleeps with EVERYONE and yet NOBODY seems to mind. Genius ploy to acquire male readers.
At the same time, there's loads of girl power to attract the women. The women Mikael sleeps with are using him just as much as he's using them, which is kind of a refreshing change. And then there's Lisbeth Salander, who is quite frankly, awesome.
As for part two of my two reasons, it's rare to encounter a mystery that I can't solve. This one is incredibly well plotted- the pace is steady, and it's long, but it's all necessary (except maybe the financial world jargon at the beginning. If I was his editor I'd have made him make that part shorter) But really, I'd have only cut the thing by maybe 50 pages. The red herrings for me were clearly red herrings, but they don't point you in the direction of the actual clues. The only other writers I can think of that do this well are Mary Higgins Clark and Arturo Perez-Reverte.
If you like a good mystery, go read them. And this book. The blurbs on the cover are right- it's thrilling. I found myself reading so fast that I wasn't giving proper thought to whodunit, and subsequently, I couldn't solve it. I'm not sure that I'd have been able to solve it even if I was thinking about it. Larsson gives you so much information that you can't know what's relevant until he tells you.
Oh, and there's lots of James Bond type stuff, too. Disguises, gadgets, hacking, the usual.
I need the next two books in the trilogy. I recommend having them close by when you're done with this one.
Go forth and read.