I'm a huge Clarke fan, but the problem with the novelist is that he skips so frequently between the absolute pinacle of science fiction (2001, Rendevous with Rama) to the lowest soap opera drivel (3001 for example.
I read the first Rama and was gripped by the fasinating scenario; the exploration and wonder of the Rama craft was original and exciting. The book mixed the greatest of sci-fi and great action and was an excellent read -- Rama II is none of these things.
What was Clarke thinking? I agree with him that the characters needed fleshing out, but not put in place of the science. We learn almost nothing new about Rama or its inhabitants. The few creatures we do meet are ridiculously simplistic and can be found in any cheap hollywood flick. The narrative is rambling to the extreme; at one point one of the characters has to enter a 50 digit code, but instead of getting on with the story Clarke rambles on for two pages and descibes to us how the character came to decided on each digit of the code! Ridiculous!
The story goes in depth into a possible conspiracy within the crew; we get chapters and chapters of clues and hints as to who is the culprit and then the story ends...nothing! We never even find out if there is a conspiracy!
Arthur's trademark desciptions of the space voyages are missing here. One minute you are at a party and you litterally turn the page and they are at the space ship. What happened?!
In conclusion, this -- if it were by another author -- could be considered okay; but as this is one of he greatest sci-fi writers even, this novel is pure drivel. If you liked the original, don't ruin it by buying this.