Second Reynolds after House of Suns. This one felt like he was phoning it in by comparison with the first.
Still a decent s-f novel with a great concept. If you look at all of his concepts, they tend to be perfect set-ups. The backs of his books often read better than the books themselves.
I do think he weaves in a lot of ideas, but I did not feel that the world was fully explored. I did not care about the characters and the pacing dragged. A lot of people may be easily immersed in the futuristic setting, taking place on a sky-piercing tower, with multiple civilizations distributed throughout its levels, each constricted to a different level of technology. You can go a lot of directions with such a concept, but the central thrust of the narrative, the main conflict, while it worked in a cinematic sense, seemed to lack the tension I was hoping for.
If I compare it to House of Suns, the leading concept is more central to this plot than that other. In HoS, the experience of reading the book is heightened by the subtlety of the world building, how one gets the sense of an endless variety of forms within the fictional universe. There is less of that feeling here, much less, and it is a straightforward exploration of an intriguing world.
Long-winded, slightly repetitive in plotting, and with fewer memorable characters. Nonetheless, Reynolds is a powerhouse s-f writers. Clearly one of the best, but is not exempt from occasionally boring me. How could he have improved it, you ask? The simple answer would be detail. It feels a little like Mad Max, which I liked, but non-stop action only serves to turn the brain off. I wanted a discussion of scientific speculations, woven with the tried-and-true themes, lots more atmosphere. Instead, we got one action set-piece following another.