I've read through some of the reviews (hardback and Kindle) for this book with just a hint of annoyance, mostly because I don't know what the reviewers had been expecting to read when they purchased it. If it's a "real" book as opposed to an e-version, I've usually thumbed through a chapter or so in the local bookstore whilst deciding if it's worth getting and it is rare that I've regretted a purchase. And as Amazon have the 'Look Inside' option on the hardback, you get a couple of chapters to go through so you have much the same opportunity to weigh things up. I looked and I bought.
It has been marketed at young adults - same age range as The Vampire Diaries/Twilight series etc - although there are none of the trademark handsome protagonist and angst ridden heroine stereotypes or sparking vampires and brooding werewolves/shapeshifters. Whilst I agree that some of the writing appears contrived at times, I'd say that this is pretty much the case with a number of authors (including some that are long established and much raved about by their target audience). Yes, the ending is probably a bit woolly and does set the author up for Book 2, but look at Twilight - the first 3 books all inexorably lead towards their sequel and as for the last book......I could go into it but I'm not reviewing Breaking Dawn! This is, after all, his first novel and hopefully Ransom will learn from the reviews from Amazon and elsewhere and develop his approach differently for the next one.
I personally found it highly enjoyable, occasionally unsettling, and the photo's didn't distract me from the story at all. As a way of introducing young adult readers to the fantasy genre, it's certainly worth reading. As a considerably older reader, but who still enjoys a wide range of genres, I found it refreshing and different to much of the young adult literature out there that I've read and would recommend it to all.