Customer Review

Reviewed in the United States on April 10, 2010
I do read books that I like. I'm sure my reviewer history is strewn with average to negative reviews. I wouldn't be reviewing this book if I didn't see that the majority of reviews were far out of line with my opinion.

1. If you're a fan of Alastair Reynolds, by all means buy the book and read it. The impact of this book was nowhere like the impact of his earlier work. But it's not unreadable.

2. If you like "hard" science fiction you may like this. Really, though, I didn't see any new concepts showing up here. The technology happens outside the scope of the narrative. The characters use it and it works reliably. The only interesting concept I found going on was with the Vigilance and how the members therein dealt with their extremely long lives.

3. What I object to most is the waste of opportunity for the author to explore what it would be like to be a person who had been in existence for millions of years (even if most of it was in stasis) and fully alive for thousands. The Gentians of the story don't seem to know each other well at all or even approve of each other. Maybe the author's point is that all families are the same (but is so, it's a long trip for a shallow point) In the end all I got was that the Gentian's were victims of their own self-editing.

4. Many of the editorial reviews call this book thrilling and exciting. I found it to be a rather drawn-out talker of a book. The characters talk a lot and do little. They philosophize, they ruminate, they solve the book's great mysteries by leaps of understanding brought out through exposition. Many discoveries happen outside the narrative stream and are announced. Not the best storytelling.

5. What I did find interesting was the Abigail Gentian parts of the story which led off each section of the book. Her conflict (up to the point where it had to dovetail into the genesis of the rest of the novel) was the most interesting and engaging part of the book.

In the end the book turns out to be a fairly ordinary who done it. The who's and the whys are no great shocks. There are no memorable villains in the book, and maybe that's its largest failing.
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