In all honesty, I read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo about three and a half years ago, just prior to the release of the third novel. I also read the second book. The story is interesting, and the translation to English well done (currently reading a Swedish novel which I hope is choppy and strange because of its translation). The novel ended well enough for me to find and read the second book, The Girl Who Played With Fire.
That said, I did not like these books. Two fairly simple, conjoined reasons.
1) The author, Stieg Larsson, struck me from the beginning of the first book as being proud of his open mindedness about sexuality, mostly his own. I know that the man was active in abolishing neo-nazism. I know he was a man with a cause and worked furiously for what he believed in. Good. But I was struck by his voice in both books, the voice of a little boy who has discovered pornography and is testing the grownups to see how he's reacted to. It seemed silly and sad.
The main character, Mikael, is in more than one fairly open relationship. The women are fine with it. He's fine with it. Whatever. The dragon tatt chick is ... is she bi? Seemingly as a result of her past and horrendous abuse. And she's brilliant. And amoral. Okay. There are several ways Larsson could have handled these moral points, none necessarily having to agree with my own world view. Again, I felt as though he wasn't so much trying to prove some kind of point as trying to prove that he was sexually enlightened. And I really didn't care about his state of sexual enlightenment.
2) The issue of morals? I had a difficult time determining where Mr. Larsson drew his lines in the sand. The lines were drawn near the ocean, I think, and were continually being washed away by the tide. Who was really evil and who was really good? What rules or behavior separated the "good guys" from the "bad guy"? I know he must have been trying to make some kind of a point, but it was lost in the haze, again, of his own narcissistic view of sex and genders. I was distracted and disturbed enough to leave the third book unread. And wish that I hadn't read the first two.
I know some of you will disagree with me. Those of you who might agree probably haven't read the books. Maybe I'm the only person who has finished the first book who dislikes it so. Maybe someone can tell me what I was missing when I read the first two novels. And whether or not it was worth Larsson's sexual exploits and enlightenment on display in print. But think about what I've said about his tone in writing before you respond, please? Thanks.
Until I write again ...