ETA 1-22-14: Rumor has it a book 3 is in the works. WOOO HOOO!
Many other people have already reviewed this books so I will just add a few extra thoughts.
1. Although this is a standalone novel, the ties ins to The Nothingness of Ben are significant and you will not get the full effect of this book if you don't have TNofB fresh in your head.
2. I felt like I had missed something as a started reading this books so I went back and read a few reviews. I read the spoilers. When I realized what was in those spoilers I had a feeling I had really gypped myself of the full reading experience of this book. It ended up not being as detrimental as I had first suspected it would be but there is a "secret" in the book that slowly starts to reveal itself fairly early on but is clear at about 50% of the way through.
3. Once I knew what the secret was from reading the spoilers, I had a feeling this books would become cheesey. There was no cheese, however.
4. This book was not as depressing as I was expecting it to be. Certainly there were sad parts. Very sad parts. But overall I found the book totally uplifting.
5. The last 5 paragraphs or so of the book should not have been written. They were unneeded and distracted from the beauty of the story. A bit of a buzz kill. I took away .25 stars for this.
6. The books is largely about music and is full of references to songs from the 60s, 70s, and 80s. A bit of theatre and opera too. I would love to go back and read it again taking the time to listen to the songs I had never heard of before. If you are a lover of music theory or history, I think you would love this even more. If you are like me, somewhat musically ignorant, it was still really enjoyable. I found myself listening to (and crying along with) Simon and Garfunkel for several hours when I first started the book.
I would definitely call this a must read and will be adding it to my favorites list.