This book has a fantastic opening line and moments that genuinely made me laugh out loud or feel for the characters, but overall the book failed to live up to my wildly hopeful expectations for it. I enjoyed it well enough, but I really wanted to love it. Alas, there was far too much telling and not enough showing, particularly when it came to the main character's emotional life, and that created a distance between character and reader that left me feeling a bit cold.
I think it also suffers from treating Dick Cheney and George W. Bush as caricatures rather than characters. I know it's a comedy, but I kept recalling my first college fiction writing class in which the professor said that when a writer tackles an alternative history or fictionalization of historical events or figures, it has to ring true. I just never felt that Cheney or Bush rang true here. They were real people used as plot devices, and that just didn't work for me even though I'm no fan of their administration. Cheney in particular was painted pretty much as evil for the sake of being evil, and Smith seems to have forgotten that every villain is a hero in his own mind -- even Dick Cheney. As a result, I ended up feeling like Smith was preaching liberal politics at me, and even though I'm sympathetic, it was a turn-off and distracted from the emotional heart of the story. I really just wanted a good story, not a diatribe on the awfulness of the Bush-Cheney administration but I got more of the latter than the former.