This book was nothing like what I expected. I expected a space opera. Instead this book touches on society formation, philosophy, psychology, biology, geology–and so on. Basically, if you have an interest in something, it will be in this book.
Robinson describes a new and alien planet in beautiful and descriptive language. He has done his research about Mars. That said, the first three quarters of the book were much better than the last quarter. The beginning of the book is about a new planet, how to treat it and how to build a society there. The end gets into a major political uprising, and the sense of vastness and discovery that accompanies the story gets lost in action and explosions.
If you want to read about space, get even more bummed about the shut-down of NASA (we’re supposed to be moving to Mars in 2024 according to this book!), and, quite literally, explore a new world, I recommend Red Mars. It isn’t a fast read, but you will find yourself interested in new topics and exploring new ideas as you go.