This book has been sat on my to read shelf for a while now. I picked it up last year sometime completely by chance. Nobody I know had cited it as one one of Heinlein's better novels and I had no particular expectations about it. Consequently, it never seemed to reach the top of my to read pile but then I heard that it's scheduled for inclusion in the SF Masterworks series. Time to think again about this book. It is not often that this series puts a foot wrong and the only other Heinlein book in the series is "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" (which I am yet to read). So, I finally picked this up with enhanced expectations.
Unfortunately, this was a disappointment. I can't for the life of me think why this got included in this prestigious series. It hasn't dated well, projecting a future that too strongly reflects the time in which it was written. It's basically just 1950's America with futuristic technology. Annoying dialogue with every other sentence beginning with "Eh?" or "Huh?". Most importantly, the story was devoid of interesting ideas and concepts that are normally a hallmark of entries in the aforenamed series.
John Thomas has an unusual alien pet. It's been in his family for generations and has been gradually becoming bigger, more unwieldy with a more demanding appetite. He calls it "Lummox" although he has no idea what it is and although it talks, everyone presumes it it's pretty dumb because it speaks like a child and has no arms. What everyone fails to consider is that it is, by it's own standards, still just a child, doesn't grow arms until it needs them, and only sounds dumb when speaking in a human language which it managed to learn despite being very different from it's own. Impossible to contain, as it can eat through anything, it eventually gets itself into trouble and risks incurring the ire of the authorities. That is until someone realises that Lummox might be the one demanded by some powerful aliens that have turned up wanting their child back and threatening to destroy the planet...
It was basically an ok read but can't imagine it challenging the reader at all, even in the 50's. There's no reason I can think of why this book shouldn't be allow to fade into complete obscurity.