The short version: overall I did really enjoy the book, but there were enough issues that I didn't love it.
I have to admit I wasn't completely blown away. Now this could be because this book is not in my comfort reading zone, so I didn't have a lot to compare it to. (Which was actually another part of the reason I picked it up. While I love SFF, I've been a little too cozy there lately. I need to keep trying other things). And I will say that I did get sucked in: the last third to a half of the book I did have trouble putting it down, kept thinking about the story, picked it back up as soon as I could. All good things.
But there were some things that bothered me...
First off, the infodumps. The worst one of all was right at the start, too. An entire chapter of flashback here's-what-you-need-to-know, oy. All about economics and corrupt businessmen, double oy. In chapter one. I had a hard time getting into it, that's for sure. There were other culprits (pretty much any time a new character was introduced--although I feel that's a feature of literary fiction) but that was the worst one.
Second thing that bothered me: why does Blomkvist sleep with all the women? Not that there are that many to begin with (excluding the very large cast of walk-on or very minor roles, and of course Harriet since she's just a concept for most of the book), but I'm not sure that's a good excuse. It was Salander who really pushed this over the edge for me. Especially with the way the book ends... Not only do all the women sleep with him, they all fall in love with him too. Of course. I mean, he's the hero, so obviously.
Third thing: I didn't feel as if the two major plot threads really meshed together. Wennerstrom and Harriet. At first it seemed as if the whole Wennerstrom fiasco was there solely to give Blomkvist a reason to accept Vanger's offer. But then the Harriet case got wrapped up with a few chapters still left to go, and suddenly we're back to the Wennerstrom stuff. Which Blomkvist quite suddenly manages to solve and wrap up quickly, with absolutely no consequences even though he's in way more deep now, and when he tackled Wennerstrom the first time he got fined and a prison sentence. I dunno, I didn't quite buy it. And I didn't like how in both plot threads, they end because the major antagonist (Martin, Wennerstrom) dies. Really felt like a cop-out to me. I was convinced that Martin's death had been faked somehow, especially given the heavy weight of faked/uncertain death throughout the entire book.
Anyway, all that said, I did genuinely enjoy the book. It had problems, but it kept me reading. And I have to say kudos to the translator, Reg Keeland, because while you could tell it was a translation, and there were certain passages that made me stop and think "huh, I bet that section was a real bitch to translate," I have a feeling it is extremely well done. (Not knowing a lick of Swedish and not being able to check against the original to confirm).
I very much enjoyed the character of Lisbeth Salander. I have a feeling entire essays could be written about her. Probably have been. I'm not going to try, but I do think she's a good character for making you stop and think. About gender, disability (your own or others'), ethics, violence, abuse... and on. I was going to say something about her rape scenes and her vengeance, but I don't think I will--while reading the book I didn't see how I could avoid it in a review like this, but now that I've finished the book and it's been a few days, when I think of her I seem to think mostly of her in Blomkvist's loft, reading, on her first ever vacation. It's subtle, but I think that's where her character has a big moment of growth... and the more I think about it, the more I think she's the only character who does really grow. (Which I feel sad to say about Blomkvist since he does go through some horrible things, but... I'm not sure how he is really different from the start to the end).