The beginning of Botchan is truly comedic. I found myself laughing out loud at his childish exploits. However, Botchan as an adult is less humorous and less of the adult you would expect him to be. I thought he was going to be quite mischievous, when in fact he tries to be a mainstream responsible adult; however, seeing his failure at school and general lack of enthusiasm, points to a personality that is hard to please.
Botchan lacks the depth of later works of Kokoro and Sanshiro. There isn't the pang of raw human emotion present. Botchan is far simpler. From what I know of Soseki's life, it almost seems like Botchan is an antithesis to Soseki's serious literary career. Here we have a main character that isn't very bright, barely makes it out of university, ends up in a country school where the children have no discipline, and with a corrupt and inept school staff.
The story is longer than necessary. The underlying plot is Botchan + Porcupine vs. Red Shirt and Clown, although it takes some time to get there. I am disappointed that the novel is particularly straightforward and there isn't a complex meaning behind it all. The ending isn't very satisfying. How can you point out someone's misdeeds in private and this is enough revenge? Possibly, Botchan and Porcupine seem the inevitability of Red Shirt's control over the town.
Overall, I wouldn't recommend this as a place to start reading Soseki because it is rather bland compared to later works.