I am always on the lookout for truly first rate scifi writers, who can combine scientific speculation with believable characters in exotically imaginative settings. Alas, they are very few and far between: Octavia Butler, Harry Harrison, and Gregory Benford, to name a few I have enjoyed recently. After reading the description, I had high hopes for Kress, but this book simply didn't quite make it, in my opinion. It has a good idea - genetic modification to remove the need to sleep - and a good voice in the principal character, but the world that they existed in did not spark my imagination - I could not suspend my disbelief, but instead felt like someone was making it all up.
The story is that this elite group is feared as a superior species by sleep-needing humans, gets alienated and camps out in space in isolation, then makes its own plans. The sleepless are super-human - also more intelligent and immortal. This failed to convince, particularly since it was genetic engineering, which always has unforeseen consequences in the modified organisms themselves. Second, the reaction of sleepers appeared stereotypical to me, like their lack of political correctness in fear was supposed to elicit a knee-jerk reaction that referenced America's Jim Crow. Fair enough, but it was 2-dimensional. Third, the reaction of the sleepless was also over-blown, particularly with their own genetic experiments (think, "sequel"!). Fourth, I did like the girl narrator, the only fully realized character who couldn't be labelled with an adjective right away.
Recommended tepidly. THere is certainly worse scifi out there. But I won't be reading any of the sequels anytime soon.