First things first: I need to mention I received this book from Goodreads giveaways.
Karou seems to be a fairly ordinary teenage girl with the usual and standard for YA literature problems: her handsome boyfriend broke her heart by cheating on her, now he tried to bring her back, and she has her petty revenge on him; I have an impression that all of these things are absolutely necessary for a book to qualify for YA genre.
Karou also likes to draw monsters and she happens to be one of the few humans who know these drawings are real; actually these monsters are the only family she ever had. She accepts their existence, but she has no clue who they are or what her role is among them. The more she learns about the monster world, the more she realizes it is not as innocent and harmless as she thought.
I am really glad this book has a truckload of ratings everywhere as I would not feel comfortable lowering its average rating - this is a very good book as far as YA fantasy romances go. As it is now, my rating would not affect the average by much. So before people start de-friending me and throw rotten eggs in my general direction for giving just 3 stars to a critically acclaimed book, please give me a chance to explain.
For me the book consists of three completely different parts roughly of the same size. The first part: introduction; it was very good which really kept me reading. The Gothic feel of Prague was fairly well done, the mystery part of Karou origin was very intriguing and Karou herself was a fairly good character.
A lot of teenage girls in YA literature are absorbed in their own problems to the point of being selfish. Karou suffers from this symptom as well, but to a much lesser degree - and I admit that at some points she is not selfish at all. Still, I suppose the series of events when a stranger leaves a burned hand-print on all doors used as a portal to enter the monster world should look unusual enough for Karou to mention it to somebody who knows better, but she is so busy with her problems she never has time for this (really???)
Even with the nitpicking above, the first part of the book deserves solid 4 stars for writing quality, mystery, and characters.
The second part of the book: the heroine meets a tormented handsome guy. Do I need to tell she falls in love with him? This part was OK, but a little too long for my tastes with not much happening except for the two characters in question looking at each other with puppy eyes. I give this part 3 stars: not for me, but I can accept this.
The last part of the book: flashbacks; this is where it became really boring all of a sudden. First of all, I already read the story of Romeo and Juliet: original one and countless retellings. This one stayed fairly close to the original, so I was bored right away; the fact that it was very obvious how it will end did not help. Add to this the fact that the flashback story jumped back and forth in time without any good reason which made me feel like this part was rushed.
I also need to mention that the book ends in a cliffhanger without any resolution whatsoever; this bothered some people, but I can live with this. All in all the strengths of the first third of the book are completely annihilated by the weaknesses of the last third of it. This leaves 3 stars to be the final rating, but I really need to mention this is one of the best YA books I read. If you like the genre I can wholeheartedly recommend this book.
This review is a copy/paste of my BookLikes one: http://gene.booklikes.com/post/794152/an-above-average-modern-ya-book