For a book aimed at teenage boys this was definitely better than I was expecting. Heinlein does some really interesting things with gender roles in this book, which considering it's aimed at male teenagers in 1955 is very good. There are strong women characters, fighters, and warriors, and while everyone still shares 1950s prejudices and seem far too keen on getting married, there is still a new perspective being offered that I really liked.
The plot of this book I found interesting, a far future society intent on colonising other worlds sends out it's teenagers/young adults on survival missions so they learn to survive on their own and can prepare for the harsh life of a colonist. In this instance something goes wrong and they have to build a society when they end up stranded on their planet for years instead of 5-10 days. I have to say that more than any other book I've read in a long time I found the plot twists in this surprising and very poignant. The end was particularly good and telling.
I read that a review of this book which compared it to Lord of the flies, but it is so much more than that, for one thing, there are women. Also the characters don't automatically degenerate but strive for ideals, while having to deal with issues of murder and survival.
This book was a little weak in places, but overall I enjoyed it a great deal. I like the fact that I can still randomly find Heinlein novels I've not read yet....Continua