I actually finished this earlier this week, but completely forgot to write my comments, so here goes.
I loved the book, I thought Droplet and squales and their creations were all absolutely fascinating. Now I can see where alot of people thought it might have been to much, but I actually really liked it. While there were a few times some stuff did get a little hard to follow, I actually picked up on most of the science and stuff in the book pretty quickly, and as for the stuff I didn't get, most of the time I was able to just move on, and within a few pages I was ok again.
I also really liked the character work that you did in this one Chris. I really thought that you were able to give us alot of interesting character development and you moved the arcs forward in a way that made sense. I espcially liked what you did with Ali, I've been curious about her ever since she first popped up with her hydration suit, and her history with Riker, and I am very glad that we got to learn so much about in this book. She definitely has a very interesting history, and I am glad that we got to learn about it.
The same thing goes for the stuff with Ree, I've always liked him, and I thought you did some really interesting stuff with him in this one. I can see where alot of people might have had a problem with his behavior, but I really didn't, once everything was explained.
As for the actual plots, I thought they were both very interesting and done very well. I just realized something while I was writting this, both plots featured a new alien species dealing with something they've never seen before. We have the squales encountering non-biological technology, and then we have the Lumbuans encountering alien beings for the first time.
My final ranking would be 9/10.