I enjoyed this one so much more than the first one that I was left wondering if I just read that one at the wrong time or if Larsson really improved that much between one book and the next. Whatever it was, this was way, way better than I expected, and I'm glad it was chosen as one of my groups' monthly reads. In all honesty, I would probably never have gotten to it.
Once I got into the story, and it did take a little while, I couldn't stop reading until I got to the end. And what an ending! When does the third one come out in the US? Not soon enough, that's for sure! Talk about a cliffhanger!
Salander is just as inscrutable as ever, but she's starting to learn that she shouldn't take her relationships with others for granted. I was so indifferent to the first book that I wouldn't have continued with the series if I hadn't been curious to find out more about Salander. I'm glad I continued and got this payoff. The important parts of her personal story are revealed, and they are every bit as shocking as I expected them to be.
This would have been five stars except for a few things. The first section--55 pages in my copy--doesn't seem to have a real bearing on anything else. I'm left wondering if it will tie in to the third book, or if it was just a long example of how much Salander "hates men who hate women." Also, there were parts that could easily have been edited out. The thing that bothered me the most was when Salander goes furniture shopping. It's two pages of an IKEA shopping list. Two pages doesn't sound like much, but it's so detailed and so unimportant! Who cares?!? Unless you have IKEA's entire collection memorized, it's just filler that needed to go!
I knocked the translation in my review of the first book. The same guy translated this one, but I think he's improved a lot. There were only a couple of things that reminded me that I was reading a translation, and they were so small I can't even remember what they were.
Overall, though, for a thrilling read with a complex, troubled, intriguing main character, pick this up. You just might want to wait until after the release of the third one though. You will be dying to pick it up as soon as you finish this book.
You can read the first chapter here.
Here's a trailer for the book. If this doesn't make you want to read it, nothing will!
Here's a trailer for the Swedish film. I can't find an English-language trailer. If you know where one is, let me know and I'll post it here instead. The movie looks pretty good. I can't find a release date for the US, but it does look like we're supposed to get it at some point.
Related: My review of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo