My impression? "Out of balance."
I'd give this 3.5 stars, not just 3. I agree with Book Geek - this isn't dystopia, it's flat out romance. I'm starting to understand that there's an entirely new genre of young adult fiction that echoes those trashy paperback romances - "dystopian romance." Now don't get me wrong, I love me a good romance. And young adult romance in particular is very sweet, rather than trashy. But this isn't dystopia, so if you're looking for that, look elsewhere. It's simply a romance set in a dystopian future.
I loved the beginning of the book. Mafi at least jumps right in with the romance and the general setting was very intriguing. The whole numbers thing fell right into step with insanity, so she did set us up for a wild adventure. But she quickly descended into a rather tedious series of events that either weren't that interesting or didn't move fast enough or weren't told well, I'm not sure which. The story lost momentum right after it got interesting. So as far as the plot goes, adjust your expectations appropriately going in.
On the subject of the writing - the thing I noticed first? A lot of alliteration. Good grief, every sentence is full of it! And the similes, and the endless ethereal descriptions of feelings - clearly this author is very young as a writer and while she bodes great potential, she is no [a:Lauren Oliver|2936493|Lauren Oliver|http://d.gr-assets.com/authors/1291156327p2/2936493.jpg].
It is also important to mention that I listened to this book rather than read it. While other reviewers were put off by the word repetition and endless crossing out of lines, that didn't bother me. When a voice actor does it, it makes sense. In fact, it took me a little while to realize that the sound of a pen going across a page was the "sound" of the character crossing out lines in a journal. You get the effect without having to be annoyed by the way it looks on paper.
As for the story in general, I found that the balance of plot and characters to be off. By this I mean that the plot could have been stronger if the characters had been stronger. I would have cared more about the action if I'd known the people better - all that describing could have been put to much better use by giving us more about Warner's background, Adam's background, even Juliette's background. To simply say that her family had to move a lot doesn't really give us any idea about how she came to be the way she is. If Mafi was going for the young adult version of the trashy romance novel, she succeeded. But if she had taken a more mature approach and focused on the background of the story, she would have had a great dystopian plot enhanced by the romance between the characters.
Except for the ending. What the heck! She turns everyone into the Fantastic Four? Seriously? Just when I started to really like Winston, she turns him into the mom from the Incredibles. Good grief. This felt like SUCH a cop out!
And one last offhanded observation - I just finished [b:Under the Never Sky|11594257|Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, #1)|Veronica Rossi|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1356591725s/11594257.jpg|15093785]. After all those ridiculously/juvenile named characters (Aria, Echo, Perrigrin, etc), it was nice to have people named more appropriately. While the nod to Shakespeare is obvious, I do love the name Juliette. Very romantic.
I have great hopes for Mafi. I think she's going to grow into herself as an author. I'm looking forward to more from her. And I did enjoy the book overall, despite its problems.