I enjoyed both the diversity in this story and the excellent writing. It’s easier to understand than Mosquitoland (his previous novel), which sounds like a positive, and in some ways, it was a positive. Just not in all the ways.
There were a few gimmicks that didn’t pan out so well when listening to the audiobook, including the repetition of the same sentences 100 times. That was pure agony to a listener, despite how well the reader tried to vary the sentence in both volume and emotion, but if you were reading instead, you would just flip the page and not read that sentence 100 times, which would be less torturous.
I understand that it was a writing risk and was intended to make a point and impact emotions, which it actually did. Visually, I am sure those pages were fascinating, but the point grew old somewhere around the 11th time the reader repeated the sentence on the audiobook. I had to fast forward by 37 or go insane.
Still, that’s a very minor complaint. Overall, it’s an interesting story. It’s a mystery but not at all intense, despite the dramatic setup. The suspense level leans more towards a curious vibe, rather than the deep psychological worry/fear that some stories will inflict upon you. I thought the way the story panned out was pretty obvious, but I still enjoyed the different characters and the way their stories overlapped.
It alternates some between present to past which is done in a way that is interesting enough not to make you feel like the whole book is backstory, which is kind of impressive as basically the whole book is backstory. I think this would appeal to reluctant readers and teens in difficult home situations, as most of the teens in this story came together out of challenging situations.