Top positive review
Pretty good, intelligent sci fi.
Reviewed in the United States on April 26, 2015
I would call this 3.5 star but round up to 4 star. Overall this is thoughtful and intelligent sci-fi. It addresses the general question of why does the universe seem to be largely devoid of other intelligent life? And it addresses this from the point of view of space archaeologists trying to piece together clues about dead races of aliens from ancient ruins scattered around the galaxy. So it's pretty original that way.
Characters and dialogue are so-so. Generally I would say the writing is pretty good. Parts of this really drag though - the first act which involves the archaeologists on Quarquara (sp?) trying to hang on till the last possible minute is a good example. I felt like it was endless description of digging interspersed with equally endless description of loading stuff. Could have been greatly condensed. There are a couple of intense 'action' sequences. The second of which (on Beta Pac III) seems really pulpy, and out of place with the rest of the novel. After that, the last 20% or so where they start to untangle the threads of the mystery seems hurried, almost like an afterthought. I don't know if these "Omega Clouds" will be the subject of a future novel in the series or what. But ultimately this is what everything in the novel is building to, and yet action-wise (and verbage-wise) it seemed like the part the author cared about more was a bunch of semi-intelligent crab creatures. I also note recycling of some hoary old sci-fi tropes, such as the overpopulated, environmentally damaged earth, and a carelessly simplistic narrative about the origin of religions, worthy of 'Ancient Aliens' on the history channel... in fact this part didn't jive with what was overall pretty smart and thoughtful writing.
It was nice, for a change, to see a novel that is part of a series, yet is fairly self-contained and doesn't end on a cliffhanger. I feel like I've had my fill of this author, and this universe and these characters, for a while. But I would certainly not be opposed to reading something else from this series in the future.