The book deserves 3.5 stars. I couldn't give it four because I found myself skimming quite frequently at the beginning and again near the end. The characters and plot were intriguing. Marisha Pessl has written a distinctive novel, brimming with intelligence. The beginning was bumpy for me until I grew accustom to the style. I almost put the book down. Then I began to enjoy the cleverness and quirky observations. Some similes were truly inspired. However, about three quarters of the way through, my mind numbed and the literary references were no longer fresh or engaging - like the finale of a firework display that fills your head with noise. The prose hindered the plot, which had finally grabbed my interest. So, I skimmed. Still, I appreciate the structure and story. Clearly a tremendous amount of effort went into this novel, and it is well worth reading.