My wife bought me this book while she was shopping for Make Room! Make Room! and the blurb was interesting enough that I started in on it right away (temporarily putting aside the 981 page monstrosity I was reading). I really like the dystopian setting where the only way to get enough food is to farm the sea and having a lower caste doing the farming puts an interesting sociological twist.
This was published in 1967 and it shows. What I noticed the most was the outdated way in which the female characters were portrayed, it kept reminding me the entire time that the book was as old as I am. At first I thought that the “romantic” sub-plot was irrelevant but I came around later when more of the story had unfolded. Even so I felt that this thread took an implausible turn which earned it ten demerits. (Are demerits even a thing in book reviews?)
The primary plot proceeded along nicely until we actually get out in the field. The scene where we finally get to see what is going on under the surface felt unsatisfying to me, it changed from a plausible set of circumstances where I was eager to find out what was causing the harvest problems to a really lame climactic scene that I felt didn’t tie up the storyline.
I didn’t care for the writing style very much either, the dialogue was often stilted. There was some world building that was delivered as dialog which felt out of place as the character listening to the exposition would have known that information in many cases.
I really wanted to like this since the seed for a great story is there but with the flaws pointed out above I can’t rate it any higher than three stars.