Top critical review
Not Clarke's best but still read-worthy -forgot to add a plot, characters, a theme...
Reviewed in the United States on February 19, 2019
[No spoilers] I went into reading Rendezvous with Rama thinking, judging from the positive reviews, that I had somehow missed reading a great Sci-Fi novel back when I was a kid. Unfortunately this is not Clarke's "2001". It's not even on a par with his memorable, ever re-readable short stories like "Rescue Party".
The whole novel is excellent as scientific speculation, pretty much as described in the book summary before you buy. Unfortunately, Clarke goes overboard on the scientific speculation. It's not that there's no nuance or metaphor. Lots of recent Sci-Fi seems to be too much metaphor to an extent it's really more like No-Sci vs. Sci-Fi. But Clarke wrote a story here where his hard Sci-Fi forgot to include other story elements - like a main plot, character development, or themes.
Still, it's a short read and a good addition to the category of "first contact" novels (like Sagan's "Contact", Cixin Liu's "Three Body" trilogy, Nevins/Pournelle's "Mote" and others). Three-stars for drilling into a very specific alien spaceship scenario so well, if not much else.