I nearly didn't read this book. The sample failed to interest me. In fact it seemed so over-written and dense that I wasn't sure what the book was about after the better part of the first chapter. However, in-part because the book was Hugo nominated and in-part because it was the io9.com book club read for the month I persevered and bought the book.
Rereading the first chapter made a lot more sense the second time around, and almost the very next page after the sample had ended the book came alive. Suddenly it isn't some weird prose about a stork it's a tense week in the lives of a number of characters who all live or work in one small square in Istanbul. Their lives are all changed suddenly when a suicide bomber kills themselves at the end of their street. The book is divided into five days - Monday to Friday - with two chapters for each. However, the story itself jumps between characters with almost total abandon (and certainly no warning) and the characters themselves frequently jump (also without warning) between present day and flash-backs. Basically, you have to pay attention. It's not for reading when you're tired.
Having almost given up on it in the first chapter (it's a little over-written in the final few pages as well I thought), I'm glad I persevered as the book was an excellent read for the other 99%. Maybe Ian McDonald just isn't good at beginnings and endings.