The writing was usually really good, but way too abstract for me - I got tired of translating Briony's voice into plain English. She also repeats herself a lot, and honestly she's one of the dumbest characters I've met. She's not really so much farther ahead than her brain-damaged sister.
I think I hated Rose. She was okay for a few pages, but after that she really became overbearing and repetitive. Every time she opened her mouth, she told you exactly what was happening; there wasn't a single clue that I didn't put together a hundred pages, or more, before Briony. One or two words out of Rose solved the entire non-mysterious plot (assuming you didn't get it from looking at the description on the cover of the book first).
And the romance angle. I really am tired of complaining about romance in every book I read, but I can't be the only one who has a problem with the fact that both Briony and her "boyfriend" seem like they're about 10 years old.
There was a deleted scene in The Door Within, by Wayne Thomas Batson, where he has his two teenage characters building a pillow castle and reading comic books at a sleepover in the basement. His editor asked him, "Now, would you actually imagine someone their age doing that?" And he had to say no. So, out that scene went.
Why didn't Billingsley's editor tell her the same thing? The "bad boys club" and the fake language and the juvenile banter seemed like the kind of things a ten-year-old would have enjoyed. And really, even Briony proclaimed more than once that she was "in lust" with her boyfriend. Not love. Lust. People are expected to contradict her and call her love sweet, but actually Briony was exactly right. There was no love, just a weird mix of innocent ten-year-old friendship and more mature lust.
So I repeat, this is probably a good book. I admit it, it's different from all the other YA books out there now. It's too strange to be shelved with them. It just wasn't my cup of tea.