This was a remarkable book. It dealt with some pretty serious issues, but IMO it managed to do so in a way that didn't make it miserable to have to read. I think much of that is to do with the characters and with their relationships.
Jake's an Iraq war vet who's suffering from pretty severe PTSD, living in his sister's basement apartment and trying to figure out how to hold on to the pieces of his sanity enough to be a functioning human being. He comes across (at least to his sister) as selfish and self-absorbed, but being inside his head lets us see what he's really dealing with and the fact that he can manage to remember even as much as he can is amazing.
Jake's sister Alice has gotten some pretty heavy criticism in some other reviews, and while I agree that she was perhaps not as sympathetic as she could have been, especially knowing all she knew about Jake's history, I don't know what more she could have done for him really--short of having him committed against his will.
Hype seemed like both the comic relief and the catalyst for so many of the events in the story. I also appreciated how she was kind of a buffer between Gabe and Jake when they needed it... how she was able to get Jake to relax and open up when even Gabe couldn't.
And Gabe... /happy sigh. He was just absolutely delightful. I loved the way he basically fell for Jake right from that first night, that even when he found out how difficult it would be to pursue anything with him, he didn't back off and decide it wasn't worth it. But I ADORED when he recognized when things had gone too far and he needed to walk away. I think that was beautifully necessary for both him and Jake if they were ever going to heal and learn from what had happened.
Like Jake said, Gabe is a mass of contradictions: an untattooed tattoo artist, constantly complaining about and teasing Hype, but then letting her stay with him and then rushing to her rescue when she needs it, and then giving all he can to Jake until he knows he can't anymore.
I thought it was beautiful how his vision of what Jake could be, just like his vision of what Jake's tattoo could be, were what finally helped Jake take the steps necessary to seek help. And I loved that the author didn't belittle anything that Jake had gone through by making his recovery magical and instantaneous. I liked that he was working through it, with the support of those he'd found to love him.