I really wanted to finish this book because I haven't read many modern future science fiction books lately. By "modern" I mean written in the last 10 years or so. However, I had difficulty in doing so because I didn't really care that much about any of the characters. I didn't care about Geoffrey's fascination over elephants or Sunday's love of art. And they didn't have very high stakes either, since they were already fairly self-ostracized from the family.
The only driving question for much of the book was "what's the next clue?" I like stories with big reveals, like Brandon Sanderson's fantasies, but this one didn't have the same building suspense/revelation that Sanderson's work has.
I'm not really sure what was bugging me through the middle, but I just wasn't engaged. So, I started skimming at the beginning of Part 2. I read dialogue, the endings of chapters, and by the time Part 3 came around, I was actually pretty interested again. The major reveal is pretty cool, without being some kind of cheesy over-the-top "we must now save the world" type garbage. That's about all I can say without spoiling it. So my recommendation is to read this book and try to make it to the end. It's worth it.
However, some of the backdrop also seemed kind of bizarre to me. Like how much of it is set in future Africa, but you don't get to see much of a cultural difference than if it were set in future Europe. And that was one of the things that initially drew me to the book--I wanted to see how a future dominated by Africa's rise might be different than Western culture's rise. Imagine my letdown at the end when I realized Reynolds had never even visited Africa in doing his research for the book.
But the technology and the culture differences between the Earth, Moon, and Mars were very interesting to me. And for that, I give this book 4 stars. Especially since it has helped remind me how badly I want to write about the future. Oh, and also, Reynolds has some really great philosophical moments in this book, like when Sunday wakes up from cryosleep on the Moon.
Some really great stuff in this book, even though it needed a lot of fat trimmed.