This book, I assume, is supposed to be parody? Right?
I am not sure at what point speculative fiction becomes parody. Similar to the line between erotica and pornography, it may be one of those "I can't tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it" kind of situations.
This book has 2 broad halves, the Chinese half and the Chinese + American half.
Up to the limits of the Chinese half, I was constantly asking myself questions like "Wait, are children really this selfless? Can children really do these things? Are children really this emotionally stable?" I was constantly asking myself if Chinese children are this exceptional compared to American children. The self reflection, maturity, and insight the Chinese children possessed was incredulous. I felt a vague sense of unease that Chinese children might be so superior to American children (my birthplace). What future can the United States have when the youth of other nations are so superior to our own?
The second half (Chinese + American) of the book put those fears to rest... In a big way. I cannot comment on the emotional makeup and resiliency of Chinese children. I can however comment on American children. Yes, I agree, there are broad cultural differences between the two groups. Yes, American culture has its share of problems, same as anybody else. Yes, children are reflections of the culture they were raised in. However, his portrayal of American children paints them as little more than narcissistic conniving psychopaths. It is so over the top that it becomes... I don't know, almost an exploitation of American culture rather than a reflection of it. In short, I felt his generalization of American children were significantly off. So far off that I felt the American children were written as parody.
You start the book thinking that there is only one plot element that you must take as a given, that there could be a stellar event with an incredibly specific type of radiation that only kills people over 13. However, about half way through (maybe sooner if you are less naive than I am) you discover that there are actually three such plot elements. The stellar event itself, the characterization of American Children as little monsters, and presumably the characterization of Chinese children as miniature adults.
With all that said, it was still an enjoyable read. Prose sometimes felt a little "literal" for lack of a better word. It is a quick read, so I would be comfortable recommending it to most.
*** Real Plot spoilers below - Don't continue
Things I really liked or noted: