[I received a copy of this novel from the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.]
Good ideas in this mash-up of various mythologies and their associated creatures, however, in the end, it was a bit too choppy to my taste.
The world of Gaia was inventive, fun, full of conundrums and syllogisms, all of those making for a place brimming with diversity... and with the problems associated to it, especially acceptance. This theme, along with the one of "humanity" in its largest meaning, was developed through the homunculi: artificial human-shaped beings, crafted by alchemists, gifted with certain powers, with a beautiful appearance for some, with intelligence and feelings, yet considered as unworthy because they didn't have a soul—or so, some people said.
The political undercurrents permeating the story (the vote, the tricks used in Atlantis to thwart it against the homunculi, the strong will of a few people like Petra to help them get rights at last) were definitely interesting. Perhaps because of all the many creatures in this novel, the hypocrisy behind their reluctance to accept the "soulless" articificial beings was even more tangible, and made for a good metaphor of injustices happening in the human world. I can say I'd really have wanted this specific plot to shine more.
Where the mashup worked much less for me was in the narrative itself. A lot of things happened, more or less tied to the aforementioned plot depending on the moments, but they happened very fast, in a chaotic way. I guess it reflected the chaotic nature of Gaia, yet it didn't male for a coherent read, and there were several moments when I had no idea anymore what was happening, why, or how the characters had come to that particular point or conclusion. Even though it made more sense once I read a few pages back, it was annoying nonetheless.
The other problem with such fast-paced events was that they didn't leave much room to character development, and I felt I was told, rather than shown, the relationships between Tyro and the cat, Tyro and Mina, Tyro and Herakles... (Tyro wants to save him, but since I didn't get to see them interact much, I didn't feel very invested in knowing about the outcome. Same about Tyro and Ankh'Si: the conclusion here was so rushed I wasn't sure if my copy of the book missed a chapter or two.)
I really liked the world developed here, however it was so diverse that it eclipsed the characters. Since I like those to be as developed in a "humoristic" read as in a "serious" one, albeit in different ways, I suppose, it didn't work very well for me in the end.