I thought this was one of the better books I have read in a really long time. The writer, Doerr, is masterful with his writing. Every sentence you just want to linger on, but you don't, because the story is so compelling it drives you to read on.
Yes, the beginning was a bit slow, but a quarter of the way through, something changed, and I couldn't put the book down.
Stay with it, it is worth it.
I would compare this book with The Age of Innocence in the regard that it lulls you into these character's lives and through time, the time to read it, you feel as if you know them. That was excellent.
I thought all characters were fantastic -- fantastic whether they were supposed to be evil, genuine, conflicted ... doesn't matter. They were all well flushed out.
I thought the narration of the book was excellent. He had perfect control of his voice, the sound quality was superb, and it was well portrayed - no overacting.
I would give this book 5/5 stars.