Crap! And to think I hemmed and hawed about reading this book. I loved this book. I was stuck at home, sick with the flu, and I read this fantastic story in two sittings. Heck, I worry that my delirium has affected my judgment, but I feel right now (still sick) that this is the best science fiction story I ever read.
It is a first contact theme set in the near future, both of which I dislike. But this story is well told and hits on important topics to human nature, making them central to the story to spectacularly illustrate a compelling point of view.
I'm impressed with the craft and just had a blast reading it. Oh, and I loved the quotes.
Just read it.