The first chapter was one of the best I've read in a long time. Initially, I found it a bit of a struggle to adapt to the concepts and visuals, but the challenge was worthwhile. I ignored the glossary and list of characters on Wikipedia because I trust a good show-don't-tell style of writing. At times I had to re-read sections that twisted and fried my mind, but I consider that fun, if and only if, the reward is gratifying. And it was.
The elements of the story include a dense and fine mix of current science jargon, sci-fi novel predecessors, good ole fashion prison breaks and thievery hijinks, flirty romance, clever retorts, and wildly imaginative landscapes out the wazoo--all well done!
However. I've withheld one star because I ended up feeling the ideas were too densely packed, in the same way a garden will choke with too many plants. Some elements could have been drawn out and savored. Instead, I found myself suffering a bit of whiplash as details and concepts ricocheted around my cranium. I prefer a high rate of concepts to dull reading any day, but the reading experience would have been improved with a bit more judicious shoveling of concept-thick jargon.
One of the more interesting aspects of the story was the immense power wielded by various opposing parties. Items such as form and identity were tools alongside nuclear bombs and spider ships. This was a war of gods dancing on the edge of mortality. Bodies are essentially prosthetics, privacy is treasured, and memories are shared or withheld like popcorn. A vaguely familiar sense of human values emerge in such a society, yet fears are fine tuned as death becomes transference to a machine-bodied servitude until the next resurrection. Truly a world of shifting streets and avenues, much like the mobile city on Mars itself. In summary, this is a fantastic read if you relax the need for firm ground and scramble to stay on the ride.