This book was a bit of a rollercoaster for me. It started out well, slowed down, sped up, slowed down, and finished with a flurry of awesome. There were a lot of things I like - yet again, Scalzi's writing, specifically his dialogue. He writes people in a way that makes them feel like people, not like *characters*. It's a talent and he's mastered it, in my opinion.
The plot is unique - a contractor for a massive and overbearing mining company, who destroys nature and wildlife in the pursuit of profits, discovers a vein of extremely valuable gemstones. Shortly thereafter, he discovers a species of catlike creatures on the planet who were previously undiscovered, and the argument of their sentience and mental capacity comes into question. During the process, the contractor fights legal battles against the big corporation, coming out on top repeatedly while the corporation makes numerous attempts on his life.
While this doesn't exactly sound like groundbreaking, unique story material, this IS based on a book from the 60s, afterall. On top of that, it's INTERESTING. The legal battles are fun, mostly due to the protagonist's snappy and often times hilarious dialogue (the main antagonist is rather clever as well), and the storyline surrounding the creatures in question takes numerous turns that were unexpected to myself at least, and kept the story very fresh and intriguing.
About halfway through the book, I was riding the line between 3 and 4 stars on this book - it was well written, but didn't seem to be "going anywhere", especially considering how short it was. That said, it took off like a bottlerocket around the 2/3 mark and never slowed down until the end, and lead to a very satisfying, albeit slightly cheesy and "feel-good" ending where the good guys get all the glory. In the end, I found the book to be entertaining, beautifully crafted and a lot of fun.