Despite being a coming of age novel and tackling some pretty tough topics (war, infidelity, parental abandonment, mental illness, homosexuality - just to name a few) readers shouldn't expect heavy hitting literature here. Also, the first half of the novel bears some striking similarities to another epistolary/coming of age type novel - I Capture the Castle. So much so that it could almost be called derivative. In my very humble opinion Montmaray is not quite up to the literary quality and emotional depth of Castle, but Cooper does have a few tricks up her sleeve that I don't think a lot of readers will see coming.
Overall, I found this to be intensely readable from start to finish and, gosh darn it, if I don't feel compelled to read the sequel immediately - something that rarely happens for me! I love that the story is light, adventurous and fast-paced, but also just smart enough to really engage a reader intellectually and emotionally.