So I had to read Huck Finn after reading Tom Sawyer. Again, I had this one in a condensed Classics form as a kid, and I read and reread it. It was hard in my mind to separate the characters and narratives of this book and the other. I kept expecting the King and the Duke to show up in the last book, etc.
... but now that I'm older and reading this book, I've got a slightly different impression of it.
Tom Sawyer was about boyhood. Boys being boys. Superstitions, a frog in the pocket, adventures, forts. Boyhood. The characters are brilliant, indelible, and unforgettable... except maybe Joe Henry. Why does everyone forget Joe Henry?
Huck Finn is about the river. It's a road movie-- a series of short stories tied in with the river as the only constant narrative. In this one, the character of Huck gets subsumed in Twain's authorial voice. Huck (and Jim, in several of the stories) might as well have not even been there. They're just a vehicle for Twain's short stories. Brilliant short stories. Unforgettable short stories, but it's just not the same as Tom Sawyer.
Huck Finn gets 5 stars because it is a classic and deserves 5 stars, but it also deserves one star less than Tom Sawyer because it's just not as brilliant and perfect. So... five stars for both of them, but if I could give Tom Sawyer 6 stars, I would. Without hesitation.