This is a fantastic lens that's long overdue from Nikon. If you have a Nikon DX SLR, and have any ambitions at shooting more than just snapshots, you should buy it. It's small, light, and makes a great "general use" focal length for shooting people and objects. It's probably not wide enough for landmarks or buildings if you're traveling (in that case consider a used 20mm or 24mm prime as a secondary lens; I already have a 24.)
After a few years of shooting with a lot of wide-range zooms like the 18-200, I'm pretty weary of what I can only describe as their "mushy" performance. In almost every way, you'd describe their behavior as acceptable, but not stellar. Distortion ok -- but not great. Speed usable -- but not fantastic. Aperture workable -- but not truly wide. They're like the Toyota Camrys of lenses - utilitarian, cost-effective, but unlikely to make your heart beat faster if you really enjoy driving, rather than just do it because you have to. That's the trade-off for an effective zoom range that would have been unthinkable back in my film days; I'm not surprised or disappointed by it but it does at times make shooting less fun than it could be. In contrast, shooting with this lens takes me back to my earliest days with a 35mm film SLR and 50mm f1.8 lens. It's a damn lot of fun and if you've been shooting with zoom lenses for the past few years, you'll have a ball with it, trust me. No, you can't take a group shot and then turn around and photograph something 100 yards away with a twist of the zoom ring. But you'll get over it the first time you look at the results. A lot of the focus when it comes to this lens is how wide the aperture is and how shallow the DOF that can create. And don't get me wrong, I love having that option. But this lens also takes outstanding photos at f/8 or f/11 as well, and you'd be doing it a disservice to constantly use it at the widest apertures.
Just to note one aspect: this focal length, and the relative lack of distortion in the lens, really removes the lens and camera from the image. You don't feel the perspective distortion of a wide-angle, or the compression of a telephoto. That sounds really minor, but it's not - you'll understand what I mean if you start shooting with this lens. The included hood is longer than you'd expect for a 35mm lens, because this is a DX-only lens -- so it's more like a 50mm lens hood on a 35mm camera. That's a good thing - it will be more effective at shading your lens as a result.
My only disappointment with this lens is that Nikon didn't provide a window that shows the distance the lens is focused to, as on some other DX and G lenses. This can make it more difficult to set hyperfocal distance in some cases. Make sure to buy this lens at or near the manufacturer's price point ($200 or so). Due to the ongoing shortage of supply some dealers have been selling it at double that. It's not worth it at that level, but if you wait around and search some you can find it at the normal price. If you're shooting a DX SLR, and you see this lens in stock, buy it. It's a no-brainer. If you don't own an SLR yet, buy this lens and a D40 kit or D60 body and you'll be happy for a long time.