For some reason I had the idea that Banks was serious hard sci-fi and rather literary, a "hard" read. I have no idea who told me that, but if I ever figure it out, I am going to beat them roundly with a stick.
This is actually fairly soft sci-fi, and not at all a difficult read, in fact I knocked it off in a couple of days, although I did admittedly stay up a little late last night!
To get my feet wet in the Culture series, it did a great job, and I rather enjoyed the travelogue nature of it.But I had some issues with it too, so I'm going with a 3 (I suspect this is a book that I may upgrade on a re-read, after I've read the rest of the series.)
Oh and If this had a "Better Book Title" it could be "Everyone Dies at the End". I literally had to re-read the last two chapters to make sure I got it right. And I do see the point being made, of the futility of it all, the pointlessness, but just... damnit.