I was really drawn to the premise of this story and while I liked the characters, the plot just was not for me. That said, I couldn't put it down even in the parts that seemed to drag a bit. In the more complex parts, I think it was all me because I think I just didn't get it. Probably because I've never quite understood Poe and I skipped over the discussions about the work, and it correlated with the plot.
While I think that Varen was awesome, and I appreciate that Isobel defies the popular status and genuinely wants to be a nice person, Gwen was really my favorite. I love her eagerness, bluntness and wish that she could have held a more critical part in the plot.
I was pretty lost at the end, and was kinda let down that there wasn't a complete happy ever after, but I suppose since its a first book, that is understandable.