This novel is lighthearted Space Opera with a strong but chaste romantic element, making it appropriate for young adults. However, there is enough action and serious conflict to make it appealing to adult Sci-Fi readers as well. The earthly section of the plot is portrayed realistically and well described, with just enough detail to put us in the scene, but not enough to interfere with the action. The secondary characters fit into broad stereotypes, each one with enough individual quirks to be interesting.
The story is set in a rich earthly and extraterrestrial environment populated by a hyper-imaginative menage of hyperactive and larger-than-life aliens. At times it is almost too creative. There are so many wonderfully diverse extraterrestrials that we don’t get time to register which one is whom, and the story romps on so quickly that we don’t figure them out.
The two main characters are complex, with internal issues that affect their relationship and create interpersonal conflict. This anchors a carefully constructed and interreacting set of conflicts expanding in size and importance, like Russian dolls. The final scenes bring them all together and finish most of them off, leaving just enough questions unanswered to create demand for the next book in the series.
On the downside, this author shows a rather casual approach to the craft of writing. There is a notable lack of transition from chapter to chapter, so characters appear in different settings after unknown periods of time with no explanation of how they got there. There are also a number of minor factual errors (you don’t get callouses from a night of harvesting crops; you get blisters). Action sequences are sometimes missing key pieces of information, preventing readers from understanding what is going on.
Don’t expect hard science here. Some of the Sci-Fi tech is frankly unworkable, even for fiction, but that’s part of the fun. It is explained well enough to fit into the plot, and then the story moves on before we really notice the flaw.
This book is a fun read for an uncritical audience.