i'd actually give this closer to 3.5 stars. like some other reviews i've read, this starts off sooo strong. max is this wonderful, young, spontaneous, imaginative, creative, emotional creature that kind of awakens the child in you when you open up the book.
the reason this is not a 4 or 5 star book is simply that the book felt... rushed... maybe is the right word. there's not much development of the monsters at all in the book -- which i firmly believe to be intentional, as this story IS about max, not delving into a history of the monsters or their island... but carol is really more scary than lovable in many of the moments, and one starts to wonder how max keeps loving carol and not moving towards full-on terror... maybe that's an exaggeration. but i guess more time hearing max's voice process through the extreme dual natures of carol would have maybe helped me stay engaged in the story. instead, i pulled away quite a few times... and i wanted to just lose myself in the book.
that aside, eggers is a great writer of internal emotions and relationships. there's a lot of sadness in here, but not enough to call this book a downer. definitely worth the read... if anything, just to see how eggers takes a short child's book and makes it his own.