Actual rating: 4.5 stars.
I won't go into the socratic arguments part; I feel CSM has covered it nicely.
But other than that, why is this book so good? Well, it's got wonderful characters with different points of view, authentic dialouge (some people try to write street dialouge and it ends up cheesy and heavily stereotyped, but you won't find that here), and some interesting elements (like the soup kitchen.)
So why not 5 stars?
This book is topic- and character- driven, as Paul tries to better understand his world. Myers portrays this in a non-preachy and exiting way (especially with some exciting moments with Sly) and some kids (like me) will love this. However, when teachers read and love good books with great teaching potential, they sometimes tend to cram it down their students' throats. Then, instead of the students reading, discovering, and loving the book on thier own, they end up hating it.
Also, because of this book being theme-driven, its not extremely exiting (although it is interesting) and while you do think about it later, you don't feel the need to keep flipping the pages. (Like I did with How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, great book by the way.) Also, if I gave this book 5 stars, then what do I give true literary masterpieces? Not saying that this isn't one - its a small masterpiece, but nowhere near some classics.
So while this book is very well-written and thought-provoking, it isn't for everyone because it is topic- and character- driven. I recommend it to everyone who wants to learn more about sociology/the govenment/ our world in general through a great story. Walter Dean Myers is truly meant to be a writer and you know that his books are always worth reading.