Okay ... Ahhh. This is a truly difficult book to review. Usually I am so excited about reviewing books that I have given 5 stars, and I've been dreading writing this review for some reason. Yes, I did like it a lot. But I just was reading through other 5 star reviews and, I'm not sure I liked it quite as much as most people do. I also see that so many reviewers feel so guilty if they disliked it or had any criticisms of it whatsoever, since it is so widely loved ... and I guess that's sort of how I feel. I really liked it, but I'm not sure if I can say I adored it as so many fellow reviewers seem to. Don't get me wrong. This is a very good book. But it didn't make me cry and I'm not fangirling or drooling over it. I enjoyed it in a rather sane manner, I guess you could say. If you've read other reviews of this book (or, you know, if you've read the book itself), you probably know this already––this book is confusing as heck for at least the first 100 pages. It has two different perspectives––you know, switching between the present and past kind of deal. Well, not that simple, but, I'm not trying to turn everyone's brains into mush here. And then the main character has these dreams/hallucinations about a boy in a tree and it's like ... Okay, is this really happening? Is this a memory? What? Meanwhile, there are a bunch of private school kids having "territory wars", and you don't know what the heck that's about either. So on and so forth. For a while, I promise, you will be very puzzled indeed. I figure readers have one of two reactions––to throw the book down in frustration, or to be intrigued and keep reading.Well, it was the latter for me. Although personally, I try never to give up on books at all. But even though this book was frustrating at first, it got a lot better as it went on. And even in the beginning, I was interested even though I was bewildered.What carried this book along for me was Melina Marchetta's writing. She has the type of writing style I wish I had ... and since lately I've been in somewhat of a writing slump, reading this kind of made my blood boil, like, "WHY CAN'T I WRITE THIS WELL?" But of course, I couldn't hate the writing because it was so good. Damn it. I also found the structure of the book interesting, how the whole thing is a mystery that gradually unfolds as you watch all the different stories connect. Marchetta sure takes the "show, don't tell" rule very seriously. And I'm not sure whether it's a good or a bad thing. I suppose it's both. I mean, showing is one thing ... and thrusting the reader into a story they don't understand is another. At first I felt a bit irritated reading this book because I felt like I was being left in the dark. Marchetta doesn't tell us any backstory. On the other hand, I don't think she exactly had a choice, seeing as the book was more about revealing the story piece by piece. But, oh well. It may be slightly aggravating, but I understand the intentions behind it. Moving on ...The characters ... I don't know. I liked them well enough but I didn't feel like I quite connected with them. I was too distracted trying to figure out what was going on. No, they're not bad characters. I thought they were realistic portrayals of teenagers––how they act, how they talk, how they think, etc. But, I've had stronger connections to characters in other books, which I just did not feel here. So ... just ... ah. I don't know what else to say. This is all very confusing. You may wonder why, then, I'm still giving this book 5 stars. Well, I'm trying to decide whether it's out of guilt. For some reason I would feel bad giving it less, because I understand what Marchetta's intentions were; and I don't think she failed at them, it's just that it took me until the last page to understand them. So I feel like it's more my fault than hers. I also feel like, if I gave this a second read, I would like it a lot more. So I'll have to wait a while and then pick it up again.Sorry, this review is probably utterly nonsensical, and I am just talking to myself now.The point is ... Yes, I recommend this book. Go read it. Think about it for a while, and read it again. And you'll probably like it.