The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl who Played with Fire, and The Girl who Kicked the Hornets Nest all make-up the trilogy that is deemed "The Millennium Series" by Steig Larsson. I've read all three books and I've seen the first film based on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It has taken me quite some time to sit down and write this review for two reasons: 1) I wanted to write it on the entire trilogy, although now I'm not sure why I wanted to do that and 2) I find it difficult to actually put in words the genius of the stories Steig Larsson wrote. Yes, genius.
Nowhere in literature have I met a character I enjoyed reading about as much as I enjoyed Lisbeth Salander, the protagonist and awesome kick-ass main character of the Millennium series. I want to be her, not all of her because let's face it, she's down-right crazy sometimes, but I find myself drawn to her character in a connective way; I want her to be real and alive and hacking into computers for me because I'm important enough for her to care about. The depth of feeling and emotion with which Steig Larsson portrays her is truly amazing. You love her, you hate her, you feel apathy, empathy, and sympathy for her sometimes on the same page. You definitely don't want to piss her off. There's a part of me that's wants to have that kind of power, I think everyone does (don't lie to yourself!), and living it through a book character is the closest most of us will ever come.
The main champion of Lisbeth is Mikael Blomkvist (who she often views as the antagonist, but he's not), a brilliant journalist. He finds himself in situation after situation above and beyond the scope of mundane news, and at the center of each tryst is Lisbeth Salander. She is either the hero or the victim, depending on which book you read. I openly admit to having a literary crush on Mikael Blomkvist. And it surely didn't hurt when they cast Daniel Craig in the role for the film.
The books read very technically. However, Steig Larsson was a technical writer for a magazine in Sweden, where most of the books take place, called EXPO. He wrote this series because at 15 years old, he witnessed a gang-rape of a girl he knew named Lisbeth and spent most of his life haunted by guilt because he did nothing to save her. This book pays homage to this girl, and this is evident by the strength he gives Lisbeth throughout the novels. She is also a victim of rape. But again, do not piss this girl off - there will be absolute hell to pay.
This is not a series to read for the faint of heart or the lazy of mind. It takes a keen eye and interest in the characters and the story to continue on to each destination. This is a grown-up book, and people that lack life experience I believe will have difficulty following the story line. Larsson was somewhat criticized for his overly intricate plot, yet he did not live to hear these comments. He suffered a heart attack and died in 2004. All three books were published posthumously in 2005, 2006, and 2007 respectively.