You know, I'm willing to overlook names like Billy and Linda Lou if the story is good, and draws me in (and it'd have to be damn good to make me feel like I'm not reading about some hicks in outer space). Seriously though, that's a personal thing.. I enjoy good character names, and these just seemed as if the author just didn't give a damn about his characters - which becomes even more evident in his story.
If this story had been recited to me, orally, at bedtime, in increments, by my grandfather, I would have loved it. It moved at a quick pace, and was written in "everyday speak" sort of language. But that doesn't translate to the page well. There needs to be detail, and description. An author should not write about how there is a language barrier between an alien race and the crew aboard a spaceship and then, a few lines later, solve that issue by saying Billy made some translation devices for everyone and they all could understand.
It's not that easy!
There needs to be some depth to the story. There needs to be actual time passing, don't tell me "...a few weeks later", write about something that happened to make me understand that time is, indeed, passing. Did he face any difficulties? I mean, creating a translation device, that seems pretty interesting - tell me more about it.
Furthermore, don't create situations that you have an easy answer to. I felt like every obstacle facing Linda and Billy was easily solved, way too easily solved, with so little actual writing space between the problem and the answer that I barely had time to wrap my mind around the issue before it had been solved.
Also - never a good idea to start a book with the morning after a wedding night. That felt uncomfortable and weird.
I really was psyched up about this book - I wanted to enjoy a good science fiction book, and when I saw that TOR had mailed this one to me I jumped around the house and talked to everyone about it. But man, I am so. damn. disappointed. by this story.