I liked it.
The Engines of God fits into the same rough style of science fiction as Rama, where the story is drive more by events and discovery than particularly by plot or character. In my opinion, this can be a perfectly enjoyable form of story, just so long as you know that’s what you’re getting.
The basic idea of this story is that in the future, humanity has developed faster than light travel and expanded to other solar systems. We’ve found one other current civilization (roughly WWI era; they haven’t noticed us) and hints of others stretching back tens of thousands of years. Yet there’s something strange: every one of them has sharp discontinuities where the clock of technology is reset.
One downside to this style and for this story in particular is that we only find out roughly what happened to those civilizations in the last 10% or so of the book. As an effect, the climax of the story felt rushed, with no earl impact. I know this is the first of a series and I can only hope they explore the impact of what they found a little more.
So far as characters, this was another weaker part of the story. I honestly don’t think I could tell you anything about any of the characters I just read about (except maybe Hutch). Part of that is me–I’m not great with remembering details about people–and part is the same type-of-story thing mentioned above. Still, it’s a little weird.
Overall, it’s a neat story and in a style I enjoy reading (once I figured out that was what was going on). It was more than good enough to start in on the rest of the series. I really do want to figure out what is going on there.