I'm unsure how much of this is due to my experience of it being in audiobook form, with a narrator whose voice is soothing but a little dull, and who is also very veeerrrryyy slow at reading. This means that the whole story is taking forever (I still have the final disk to go, and am not entirely sure if I'll bother). Also, I'm sure that - as with many foreign language books - a lot of its charm has been lost in translation. So far the book has two huge marks against it without any fault of its own.
I found the story to be bogged down in boring, pointless descriptions and countless tangential deviations from the two main plot points (I think there's two? It's hard to say for certain). For example, at one point an entire page (approximately) is wasted by describing Blumkvist's journey to find the source of a photograph - a journey which ends up having no point as, pages and pages and pages of more boring details later, he realises that the photograph is worthless! (And then, of course, far later in the book it turns out that the photography is not worthless. Sort of.) This kind of thing occurs countless times, usually with less-successful conclusions. Rather than being twists these moments come across as ill thought out, which is at odds with the rest of the writing.
There are good points. Salander is a good character, with her dysfunctional charm and her refusal to stay in her given role as "victim". Larsson certainly writes characters that manage to be rather likeable, despite their many flaws (apart from Blumkvist, who I mostly dislike). Also, the whole Harriet saga I found fascinating, even with its implausibilities - I only wish the book had stopped at its conclusion.
The Venistrom affair is, quite frankly, monotonous. If it had been given its own book (and perhaps, a different author or translator) it could potentially have held my interest but as it is, I honestly could not care less whether Blumkvist will triumph in his persecution of the cliched corrupt businessman.
The theme of violence against women was clearly dear to the author's heart. I can appreciate the points he makes, and the fact that he does not shy away from presenting unpalatable truths. I commend the imagery, something many have complained about as "too graphic". Violence of the degrees faced by the women (and some men) in this book is faced by many women and men in real life, and should not be something that is skimmed over or ignored. I hardly see it as gratuitous, as every incidence of violence impacts upon the characters and shapes them, so therefore is essential to the narrative.
It's just a shame that messages like these, and - in my opinion - riveting plots such as the story of Harriet Vangar were lost in the deluge of un-needed details and other stories. I rarely say this, but maybe the film will please me more?