As a writer I'm always dissecting a good book, trying to figure what makes it compelling. Discussing a book with a friend recently, she told me to STOP--I was ruining it. Probably, but it's what I do.
Just finished Stieg Larsson's last two books in the Dragon Tattoo series, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest. Too detailed, over-written in places, and in desperate need of editing, I couldn't put the darn things down.
Normally my critical misgivings would have quashed my reading, but in this case, I kept on devouring everything Larsson penned. His characters, of course, are one of the most significant reasons to keep reading. The female protagonist, Salendar, is the ultimate underdog, abused as a child with no legal rights as an adult, she is a survivor to the extreme. Dark and cunning, she is the defining 'woman hear me roar,' in control of her environment against all odds. And Blomkvist is the apex male character, loved (literally) by all women, the average man-next-door, who fights for truth and justice, and he's not conceited. Female readers are intrigued by him and male readers want to be this mythical man adored and sought by women and successful in business and private with no strings attached.
Larson's twists and political plots drag the reader through some of the writer's over attention to detail to cliffhanger endings that make an undeniably good read. This is proof that a persuasive, intriguing story with great characters is impossible to keep unpublished.
I better get back to it.