I wish I could rate this book 4.5 stars, but I'll round up. So I don't want to, but giving my thoughts on this book can't be done without referring to Harry Potter of course. For the record, if you didn't know the name on the cover, nothing would convince you they were written by the same person. The only similarity is Jo's ability to create characters you can't help but be fascinated by.
Honestly if the only reason you considered picking the book up (and the description of the novel/the idea of a character based rather than plot based novel) sounds boring, you should probably skip it. I think a lot of the bad reviews are due to people who would NEVER normallly read this type of book or who don't normally read all that much deciding to read this because "ZOMG its gonna be so AWESOME, like Harry Potter!!!1111!!!!!"
There is no main character in the book, it rotates through about a dozen people's point of view, all dealing with intersecting events. Some depressing, some horrifying, none of them all that happy. There aren't very many likeable characters, but they were all interesting.
I have to say that if you go in to this book and just forget who the author is, you may enjoy it more than if you constantly have her most fabulous series in the back of your mind.