Oh dear. One of the most famous works of Arthur C. Clarke and I didn't like 70% of it. The story of the arrival of extraterrestrial overlords and their nurturing of the human race towards the next step in their evolution.
What did I enjoy? The start contains some iconic SF imagery of the large ships hovering silently and ominously over major world cities. I enjoyed reading about the social engineering that the overlords initially engage in before they reveal themselves. The ending is done well too and the way that all of humanity and the planet earth are wrapped up is superb.
The problem is that there is a very good idea for a short story that is spread extremely thinly over 188 pages. It is padded out by character back story which is ACCs weakest area. There is very little science and logical fantasy here and too much fiction. I didn't enjoy the dinner party. Or the guy stowing away in a plastic squid. Or the silly people on the island. And worst of all were the overlords. Ten foot tall devil-like creatures with horns and a forked tail - give over. They made me think of the satan character in South Park the movie. The dialogue was wooden for all of the characters (ACC is crap at dialogue) especially the overlords.
Overall, read the book until the overlords reveal themselves and then pick it up when the guy returns from the overlords home planet and you've got a score of 8.5. As a whole I've got to give it a low score.