I will be the first person to tell you that holy freaking crap the beginning of this book is horrible. If it had ended up in any slush pile, the book would have been scrapped immediately. Thank god for the editor who stuck with it. The reader has no idea who the characters are, and even though they are actually intriguing people, we don't know that yet. You have to sit through 50 pages (likely even more, I forget) of one of Blomqvist's college buddies telling his stories about some financial giant, and there is no reason for you to care.
I bought this book years ago, before they really became popular in the US. It had a cool cover, what can I say? I started reading it and immediately put it down in disgust. It was really horrible. I picked it up honestly five times, finally succeeding this last time when I just started at chapter five. And even then, it takes sooo looong for the story to get going. But I stuck with it because I loved the movie and knew that it had to get good sometime.
You reach a point about halfway through the novel when you go THIS IS AWESOME and it starts to consume your life. It's one of those "Did I remember to eat? When did I last shower?" type of books. It makes me wish I had been reading them as they were released in America so I could get all excited about them like the good ol' Harry Potter days. There aren't too many series where I finish one and then immediately want to read the next one, but I made a special trip to get the second book last night and am already on chapter three.
The book is all about the characters. They are amazingly deep, and even though they are dangerously close to falling into cliché because of their character types this never happens. Lisbeth has so many layers, and the thing that sets her off from other clichéd social outcasts is her reactions. She is cruel, and has no remorse, and yet can still get embarrassed about simple things and can still have recognizable emotions, all while exacting her cruel revenge on assholes that deserve it. She's the vigilante we all wish we could be. Blomqvist is cool too, but he doesn't stand a chance against Lisbeth. She's the reason I kept reading through all those awful beginning chapters, for the tiny two-paragraph snippets of her life that just kept me turning pages.