I have to agree with some other reviewers of this book, never judge a book by its cover. The cover artwork is catastrophic, and must have had a detrimental effect on sales. That said, the rest is truly superb. I read this book in three days, devouring every page. And as the author says in the printed interview with him at the end of the book, a story has to move. And my word, move it does. I loved the pace and the balance. In fact, overall there were only two or three places where I thought there seemed to a touch of meandering and they were extremely short lived, perhaps a page or two - believe me it really is that good. Prior to this read I had just finished Tad William's Shadowplay the second in the Shadow-trilogy (which is now no-longer a trilogy apparently) and his books are so dry in comparison. Especially with the really annoying abrupt switching between story-lines. None of that nonsense here. Stover's writing is tight and very clever at times. A couple of things snuck up on me in the story that I hadn't been expecting and I had to grunt my approval as I read on. Great job Mr. Stover.
The concepts of the storyline are fabulous. I found myself making connections with the original Rollerball file with James Caan, The Watchmen and The Running Man with Arnold. A very very gritty book, and my first foray into gritty/dark fantasy, and now I want more more, give me more. Violent, yes, but not gratuitously so. The dialogue is sublime, actually as you would imagine it really would be. I really can't believe that I have been missing out on this book for so long, what a diamond.
No doubt it would make a fantastic film, but films never do stack up to the books as every reader has their own imagination and particular delights. And the casting would have to be so carefully done, as any actors carrying any kind of typecasting baggage would just ruin it for me.
Most definitely worth the full 5 stars. Not for the fainthearted. Hey, but what a ride.
What can I say, I am fan!