This book is a collection of select chapters from "The Brothers Karamazov."
There is a lengthy introduction that explains in detail the author's philosophy and how it is revealed in each of the four chapters presented here.
"The Brothers Make Friends" is simply here to introduce the two brothers Ivan and Alyosha. Ivan is the Europeanized lover of science, and Alyosha is the young Romantic. Dostoevsky uses his characters as representatives of different worldviews, and develops action in such a way to show how each worldview could be flawed.
In "Rebellion," Ivan's character is developed as he reveals his disdain at the suffering of children and how cruel it seems since they are without sin. Ivan says that he realizes there is suffering and that no one is responsible. This shocks him because he values order, and yet there seems to be no justice in the world.
In "The Grand Inquisitor" chapter, Ivan tells a fable based in the Spanish Inquisition in which the Catholic Inquistor judges Christ, who has returned. He condemns Christ to death saying he valued freedom of faith over mankind's happiness (in ignorance of freedom).
This small book concludes with the incredible story of Father Zossima. In the "Russian Monk," Dostoevsky explains the old Russian, holistic vision of sobornost (love of the entire world and one's taking responsibilty for the sins of all). In this worldview, if all choose to follow it, all will serve all and the world will be a paradise.
Dostoevsky's storytelling is very emotional, and not so much picturesque. But there is so much impact in his words and message! This book is one of my all-time favorites, and I cannot wait to read "The Brothers Karamazov" in its entirity. This, probably, could also serve as a great introduction to Dostoevsky.