I finally gave this a read and listened to the podcast, which was great. (Every time I was about to type up a comment, one of you brought up the point I was about to make.)
I enjoyed it overall. I appreciated seeing things from a teenage perspective for something different. I liked the setting and native life. I liked the finale too.
I don't really mind the romance. Most of it is just dumb thoughts popping into Olivia's head and she acknowledges how stupid it is to be thinking about it during all of the carnage.
I liked how Olivia's knowledge of xenobiology played into the action and let her figure out the xenomorph life-cycle out on the fly.
The dynamic between Olivia and Viola became pretty interesting,
especially once we learned the twist. Olivia's attachment and determination to save Viola despite learning she was an android was something new & interesting for the franchise. It provided something weird for us to chew on.
I did have the following gripes:
The Michel character was hateable, but not in the way he was supposed to be. He's cartoonishly over-the-top. His level of dickishness should have been gradually built-up instead of just turned up to 11 from beginning to end. I didn't think he was believable for most of the book.
I didn't really like how every single person who's been facehugged had telltale rips around their mouths, which we've never seen in any other media. I was hoping this meant a new kind of creature that forces people's mouths open and impregnates them - kind of like Chet from AVP:R. But no, one of the victims describes the eggs and it sounds like they were just facehugged. (I guess it's possible that there's something different about these facehuggers - either because of spawning from the Zagreus wildlife or experiments on the research vessel.)
The ending was a bit of a downer and felt a bit too open for my taste, but I was reading this with the knowledge that Olivia was supposed to show up in the cancelled Rising Threat comic, so I assume somebody rescues them.