While there is plenty of interesting exploration along with some exciting action sequences set within this future biotechnological space faring society, the story telling just doesn't unfold smoothly. The author has created a fascinating universe for the reader's enjoyment, but falls short in the ability to communicate this effectively. Early in the book, the mind boggling amount of technical wizardry introduced overwhelms the fleshing out of our main characters, the Engineering Research Crew and the society in which they function. It seems the author has so much to tell us that he is impatient to spill it all out. In common with most Science Fiction, most of the characters are two dimensional, which is a real pity, given each crew member looks to have a fascinating background just itching to be told.
There are several useful appendices that I wish I'd found before getting too far into the book; a useful glossary, a list of acronyms and abbreviations and finally the rules and articles of war for the Games Board, that mysterious, ever present shadow that seems to be behind many of the misfortunes AND fortunes of the crew. Make sure you check these out after the first few chapters.
While I found the book uneven, with the occasional annoying gaps, over all it was an interesting first book from a promising author. Hopefully the planned sequel (given the several dangling story threads one has to be planned), will be a smoother and more enjoyable read. I'll look forward to reading more about the main characters and their intelligent bioconstruct 'pets'. Reading this book gave me a much deeper appreciation of the skills of a good writer and brought home how very hard it must be to produce a saleable product. So well done to the author for sharing your ideas and to the publisher for taking a chance on a new writer.