Top critical review
Wake me up when we get somewhere
Reviewed in the United States on August 16, 2019
I'm hard-pressed to figure out why this book got so much attention. Told from the point of view of several of the characters, I never thought that the early settling of Mars, corporate attempts to exploit the planet and the settlers, and a failed rebellion to overthrow the corporate machine and their government cronies COULD BE SO BORING!!!
The author spends pages and pages describing features of the planet that no one cares about and has nothing to do with the story. There's a page long list of equipment!!! Who cares!?!?! How does that even advance the story? I suppose if I were going to Mars, I now know what to bring - but I didn't buy this book for a planetary explorer shopping list.
The characters are pathetically stereotypical with the golly-gee-wiz good guy John, the machiavellian "bad" guy Frank who wants John's girl, the oh-so-indecisive girl Maya who loves whomever the wind is blowing toward (or whoever manages to stay alive), and on and on. Empty shells - every last one of them. The true enemy, corporate interests, is this amorphously vague construct that isn't well-defined or expressed.
The action is sparse - despite the book's lead off - and confusing. The author simply notes it in passing and may describe the architecture of the missile or its trajectory in more studious detail than its impact on humanity. The parts you want to hear more about, such as an entire futuristic battle on the Martian surface, are vaguely described while the dimensions, color, texture, and clarity of a hunk of ice gets two pages of detail.
As entertainment, I imagine some engineers may like this or anyone pedantic enough to suffer through multiple pages describing fictional geology. As for me, I can't imagine having to read two more of these books. I'd rather read a geology textbook and learn some "real" science.
All in all a good book - IF YOU WANT TO FALL ASLEEP. How in the world did he get a Hugo award for this!?! I gave it two stars - one because the science and setting are interesting - though overly boringly described. The other for using corporate exploitation as a source of conflict to advance the story. But the lack of depth of the characters and too much depth to things no one cares about almost had me giving up on this even after having trudged half way through it.
My advice: SKIP THIS BOOK UNLESS YOU'RE LOOKING FOR AN ALTERNATIVE TO PRESCRIPTION SLEEP AIDES.