Strange. Weird. Bizarre. These are words that could certainly be applied to this work. Certainly you're asked to go far in suspending your disbelief. But perhaps so far that you begin to accept the rather inane aspects of the novel. Mind you, if you're a diehard 'old school' SF fan you might find this totally outside your sphere of acceptability. This is not for those who put Bova, Niven, Asimov, and Clarke at the top of their list. There are moments, however, when I was reminded of the first time I read Heinlein's 'Stranger in a Strange Land,' which seemed such a departure from the Heinlein juveniles I had so enjoyed. 'Stranger in a Strange Land' was something of a cult classic among college students of the day, and one can imagine Doctorow's book perhaps gaining such a status.
It's one of those books that invites examination, much of it obviously not being meant for literal interpretation. I think, however, that it's a difficult novel to really get your head around. There's no question that some readers will be inclined to abandon it early or chuck it aside in disgust. But if you persist, as did I, you may find the reward sufficient to the effort.
(Lindsay Brambles, author of In Darkness Bound)