I was...relieved i think...that there wasn't nearly as much of the beating up of old friends. That said, there were a lot of threats that i didn't care for, and some things that were never explained. Like, why did Max kill the uncle?
The H/h were cute, although Stevie's neurosis was a bit irritating, and Shen's "I'm not your boyfriend" bit went on too long.
The side characters though... It's been a while since I read the earlier books, and while I remember *some* of the characters, it seems like there was a veritable parade of heroines past. I don't remember Kyle's parents at all. Perhaps at some point, a reread is needed.