Let's be honest. The reason this book has sat on my shelf for months is because it just isn't my style. Three months later and only halfway through, and I find it time to resignedly face defeat. I love Valente's lush prose; the vivid detail that appeals to all my senses and perfectly conjures a scene. I just have a hard time with the underlying sexually transmitted disease/desire imagery, and am finding the characters a challenge to care about in their obsession. She--or I--might have bit off a bit more than is chewable in this one, with at least four different normal-world protagonists, and their various lovers. Many are from different cultures and countries, and when their experiences drop them into the alternate world, they frequently end up in new districts. Disorienting, and more than anything, reminded me of a kaleidoscope or a county fair at midnight on the last night. Confused, desperate and full of amazing images.I'd recommend this book to someone who likes to play around with new ideas in erotic fiction, and with a tolerance for dense, voluptuous prose. She's an amazing writer (and person!) who deserves to be more widely known.