I am a big Dan Simmons fan and have been since I read Carrion Comfort as a late teen. Even when his topics head off into places I really have no interest in (The Terror) he has been able to create an interest in me through his style and the knowledge/history he imparts as part of the story. (Loved that book)!
That being said and without spoiling anything for anyone yet to read the book, I thought the *first* ending would have been really great, in fact I was yelling to my husband...."you were wrong" (He was guessing how it would end). I was very excited that the author threw caution to the wind and really went for the BANG ending. Imagine my surprise when that chapter was complete and another continued the story! Darn it, my husband was right (and believe me he loves to hear that!).
I also it took a very long time for me to care about what happened to Nick, the main character. He was very unlikeable to me throughout much of the book and to be honest I didn't care whether he made it through or not. In fact, a lot of the characters are really not likeable, which is fine...but you have to care about someone right? Why else read a story about them? This character though, did develop and towards the end I did feel for him (I think mostly due to the feelings he had towards his wife).
Lastly, the politics did play a small part for me in giving this book review 3 stars. I don't mind politics as part of the story and to help build the background information and setting, but I did feel that it was a bit preachy at times (whether you agree with the politics or not). I've read the page at the author's site where he says these political views are not his own. Hell no, I believe he said. Whether they are or not, I felt that the politics played too large a part in the story. Rather than contribute to my enjoyment of the book some of the political points in the story served to take me out of the story completely. There were some good and bad viewpoints to consider but the story is supposed to be the whole point, isn't it? Probably some of Nick's views in the story were part of the reason I found him unlikeable for most of the story.
All in all I did enjoy this book, but I did feel slightly disappointed. When it is an author that you really, really like (and I know my expectations are high) you just want to be WOWed, and I wasn't.
I guess I didn't keep this as short as I originally intended-