I picked up this book as a beach read, before all the hubbub really started. Usually when I'm checking out a book I know nothing about I'll read the first couple of pages: if I like it, I get it, if I don't, I put it down and keep searching. I really liked the first two pages of this book so into the TBR pile it went!
What followed was an intensely drawn portrait of the near(ish) future: A world in which agriculture companies have 'gene-ripped' all the crops on Earth and rendered the seeds sterile, Krung Thep (Bangkok) exists only because of levies holding back the ocean, and power comes from calories.
The characters just *are* in this book. No one's a superhero, no one is pure evil, no one's going to redeem the planet. They're simply people (both typical and gene-ripped) who are trying to navigate the world. That some of them are in positions of great power and are playing a highly political game makes them come off as bad guys but really, they're just looking after their own interests. Like people do. Of course, this makes most of the characters in the book fairly unlikeable (for me at least.)
The political intrigue plot was tightly drawn though slowly moving. There was a small subplot that felt like a complete throwaway to me. The wrap-up we get for it at the end seemed a little... forced? Incongruous? But I was left with a "Really?" feeling, rather than the "Wow, okay" I had before it happened.
All in all I ended up liking this book but it'll never be one of my favorites. But then, I really like cheese and this book is far from cheesy.