I'll start by saying that I love the Star Wars prequels. I grew up with them and they hold my interest as much as the originals. However now that I am a college student and have heard countless critiques of them, I have a good understanding of their shortcomings, and why many first generation fans were dissatisfied.
Despite this, I still love this book. It is a very well written alternate prequel story to the classic films. There is a fantastic mix of character development, humor, action, romance, and suspense.
The author additionally did an outstanding job nailing the dialog for classic Star Wars characters, and also infused perfect chemestry between them.
While reading this, I couldn't help but imagine what how an audience would have reacted to this story in theaters in 1999. I believe that the lively humor would have sufficed in place of Jar Jar, and the romance between Anakin and Padme would have been better received than the version portrayed in the actual films.
However to remain objective, I would like to provide what I wouldn't consider as criticism, but possible additions to the book if it were to outline a film. There could be more widespread action on a larger scale, and more frequent and deeper references to the original films. But other than that, this was a worthy alternate to the George Lucas version of the first prequel.
I definitely will read any sequels to this novel and I strongly recommend it to all Star Wars fans regardless of their opinion on the prequels!