This is absolutely one of my favorite books. The characters are deep and involved. The story is compelling and difficult to put down. I read this one over and over, and it never gets dull.
There is a good story here. . . underneath very pedestrian storytelling -- which is rather ironic, for a novel about the power stories (and memories) have in our lives. It is a coming-of-age novel, but the characters surrounding Samad (the young boy) seem never to have grown up themselves, and from his introduction (when he is eight) Samad thinks and talks and acts exactly as mature as Teller (who is even older than Samad knows). It is a companion animal fantasy and succeeds in that regard, but as a result the har don't feel alien enough for the science fiction setting that is clear in the backdrop at all times and which becomes foreground in the last third of the novel. The central metaphor inherent in the harsel mode of reproduction is very satisfying as it weaves through the rest of the story, but its execution left quite a bit to be desired, and the novel got bogged down in the middle with paroxysms of grief. In short, it's a story in search of a writer: if Thomson was a better technician (something she conveniently makes Samad off-stage with a bit of hand-waving that felt far too much like wish-fulfillment) I believe I might have loved this book; as it is, I could see recommending it to a middle-schooler (whose parents don't mind frank discussion of sex) but not to an intelligent, well-read adult.