Well, not for me. It was certainly a fun read, but it wasn’t as captivating as his first book. The setting is very cool. The science is solid. If that’s what you loved about The Martian, you’ll be happy to hear he didn’t suddenly start writing Buck Rogers. He still leans heavily on science to facilitate plot points.
I’d recommend it as a fun read, just don’t expect it to be as much of a page-turner as The Martian was.
A Minor Nitpick
Yes, this is probably trivial… But it does have a dangling Chekhov’s Gun problem. I won’t mention what it is, you might not even notice it. But I did. Immediately. As soon as it came up (in dialogue) I expected the inevitable usage of it – But it never happened. Now, you may say that it’s subverting expectations. And that’s fine. It’s bullshit, but fine.
It makes me think it was a holdover from a previous draft. As if a certain plot point that happened originally was changed, but the dialogue wasn’t caught… Okay, I’ll talk about it after all.
Beware of Spoilers...
So there’s a part where the protagonist’s buddy Svobo says that if he’s ever forced to betray her he’d work the word “Dolphin” into the conversation. It’s so random yet specific that it stuck out to me. Obviously if a character says something like this, then they’ll have to be compromised at some thrilling point in the story. But that never happened.
Yet, there is a betrayal involving another character delivering her into the hands of a mob enforcer. I think originally (or at least in some previous draft) Svobo is the one that does the betraying. But the author decided against that and just never went back and removed that bit of dialogue.
But that’s just a theory.