*This may contain spoilers. I'm not very good at judging what could be a spoiler and what isn't, other than the obvious things. I should probably put Spoiler Alert at the top of the blog somewhere*
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo wasn't what I expected. I assumed it would be a non-stop thrill ride. I can't tell if the story was over-hyped and if I would have enjoyed it more if I didn't have these raised expectations. The story was slower than I expected it to be and I never got to the point where I had to read "just one more page". To be honest, I never really cared about the whole Wennerström plot and I found Blomkvist to be boring. I thought Salander was the most interesting character and unfortunately the story didn't stick with her for long enough. The title leads you to believe that Salander will a more prominent character than she is and I can't decide if the new title is false advertising.
I wrote the other day how I understood the original title of the book was Men Who Hate Women. The rape against Salander is violent and in my opinion unnecessary to her character development. I don't think we learn too much more about her after this scene, other than she's capable of violence. Violence I was totally behind because, well, I can only be so sympathetic to a rapist, but violence nonetheless. I guess I see where Larsson was going with this scene, given the violence against other women described later in the book. It isn't just a crazed serial killer that attacks women, it happens elsewhere. But the rape is so violent that it isn't really making a statement about the general atmosphere of condoned violence against women, it's just another sadistic exaggeration. That's not to say it doesn't happen, but it's not the norm and the extreme violence just makes the act all that much less believable.
I'm going to read the next book in the series, because it's the next book for book club. I hope that Salander plays a larger part in that book. If she doesn't I don't think I would bother reading The Girl Who Played with Fire. I guess that's s a compliment of the character Larsson did create. The book may have a lot of violence against women, but the female characters are far more interesting and more well developed than the male ones.
Overall I wouldn't really recommend the book. It wasn't awful but it wasn't for me. With the exception of the Salander scenes, which I did enjoy, I would have been fine putting the book down at any point and walking away from it.
Title quote from page 552.
Larsson, Stieg. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Vintage Books, New York. 2008