Full Disclosure: I have received an early review copy of this book to read and review rather than paying for a finalized copy. As such, some things I may mention will potentially differ in slight ways from the print copy.
I feel obliged to measure this book by the expressed purpose. It would be easy to judge the book based on how directly useful it is to an experienced individual or to measure it against the specifics of a subjective location. Someone living in the tropics could easily rank this book several points lower than someone living in a moderate to cold climate. I believe doing so would be unfair. I'm also going to attempt to address things in a manner not already covered by other reviews.
As such, here are the expressed intents of the book:
Be a book which is directed at those with limited or no experience with permaculture solutions and which can be given freely to others by those who have purchased copies.Offer solutions for a colder climate range as a primary focus, while also offering some solutions that can be used elsewhere.Express information as factually as possible as ideas that have been filtered via crowdsourcing.Address potential solutions to a focused number of global problems rather than attempting to address all of them.To keep the solutions and discussions tightly focused and limit the pages dedicated to a given topic so as to stay within a reasonable page count.Provide a simple method to further dive into any topic which you may find of value.
With those intentions in mind, I would say this book reaches a solid 9.5 out of 10 Acorns.
The book is clear from the onset that these are opinions. Opinions backed by experience and numbers, and honed through the minds of many, but still opinions. As it goes through the topics, the authors touch lightly on the information freely available elsewhere. Just enough to give the reader the information they need to understand. They then expand on these with new information. I feel the target reader will be able to readily navigate the content and find clear solutions to get their minds whirling with ideas. For those of us who are more experienced or familiar with the data, the rehash is not intrusive and there is a surprising amount of new information to dig into.
A Deeper Dive
Some formatting felt odd to me, but since this is an advanced copy, there's still only the most basic formatting in place. The one that struck me most was the use of 'Chapter 1' before 'Part 1'. I would have liked for the introduction chapter of Part 0 was just that. An introduction rather than a chapter. It's a nitpick and didn't influence my rating, but it is something I would have personally liked to see changed when they do the final edits.
I would have liked to see the eco scale noted to use average watts rather than average cost. It's easy enough to convert or to simply look up the average watts, but as a personal opinion, I feel that watts won't change the same way that costs do. Cheap energy costs in your area might not indicate less energy use after all. I am hoping that this is adjusted in the final print, but I don't think it really prevents you from understanding in the least. I actually like this eco scale since the first level is about beating the average. Just about anyone can understand that and at least 50 percent of us are able to manage it.
The biggest shock of reading it was my opinion by the end regarding form. I am a staunch lover of physical books. If given the option, I will almost always choose a physical book. With this book, I feel that the proper experience requires an E-reader. There are bound to be people who'd rather receive a copy physically and that's just fine. Still, a physical owner is missing out.
The book is loaded with hundreds of footnotes. Instead of a huge appendix of information at the end of the book for these footnotes, they exist as links on the very bottom of the page where they appear. As you read, you can follow the links for topics that draw you in and then dive down the rabbit hole to learn far more on the Permies site. I can't begin to overstate the value of this in accomplishing the expressed purpose of this book. An unaware reader can instantly link to a wealth of information on every aspect of each topic in the book.
I think that within the scope of its intended purpose, this book accomplishes the goals masterfully. I love that the focus was on colder environments, which don't see nearly the same amount of focus as Tropical and Sub-tropical climates for permaculture designs. Yes, those of us who are already familiar will be reading a lot of things we already know, but there's still a lot to take away. For those with no experience, every topic area is kept to a small block that can be read in a few minutes. It's an easy book to read a bit and set aside as you need. It's almost impossible to find yourself in a situation where you need to reread to remember what the chapter was about. Go into it with the correct expectations and you'll find there is a lot of value to the book.