I was sitting in my hostel in Brussels a couple of months ago, and left on the little night table by my bed as a copy of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' - in the dreaded movie edition cover. It turned out to be an English copy in a French/Flemish city, so I figured it was a good idea to pick it up and give it a shot despite it being quite different then my usual diet of classics (it ended up with a friend in Croatia, then to Canada). But, I was on vacation! So I traveled around quite a bit on the train and read it when I had finished all my expenses and the landscape on the train wasn't very exciting.
If you're looking for literature, this book isn't what you're after. It was a decent 'thriller' novel, but nothing really special. The best part of the book for me was the backdrop of the book - the country of Sweden - which I had passed through a bit earlier on my trip. As I was reading this work I could not help but see Daniel Craig running around, piecing together clues of the crime and sleeping with quite a few of the characters. The fact that I had watched the movie and remembered a bit of the plot made it so that I couldn't really give this novel a fair shake.
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The constant mention of female abuse in the work was a direct result of Larsson's experience watching three of his friends gang-rape a woman (see Wikipedia). This theme overlaid much of the novel - much more so than I felt in the movie at the time. There were themes of revenge, redemption, the triumph of good over evil, greed, sexual exploitation and sexual experiences in general (quite a few).
If you like modern day thrillers and aren't squeamish, you'll probably enjoy this work. Otherwise, I would suggest steering clear of it altogether. A decent book for what it is, but now that I've tested the hype, I will not read the remaining books.