This was different from Heinlein’s other youth books. Usually, when I read one of Heinlein’s YA books, there’s a definite protagonist (usually a character who’s a little too perfect), and a definite goal or obstacle that needs to be achieved/overcome. The stories are straightforward, and the complexity of the books comes through the ideas presented rather than the plot. The Rolling Stones didn’t work that way at all. There was no single protagonist, instead there was a whole family (who were still a little too perfect, so at least that was familiar). There also wasn’t really a plot. Instead, the family just traveled from place to place and dealt with whatever situation they found. That led to far less tension throughout the book as a whole.
The book was also far more technical than most of the other Heinlein works I’ve read. I didn’t get the sense that it was the author’s imagination either. It had the feeling of an author who had done a lot of research into how zero gravity navigation works and what kind of issues an happen. Everything from the communication problems to the mechanical failures weren’t just plausible, they seemed natural.
I found the book to be enjoyable, but it’s probably my least favorite of Heinlein’s books (so far). I didn’t really connect with any of the characters, and that, combined with the lack of an objective, made it hard for me to really invest myself in the story.