This is a classic, and I figured it was a good year to read it. I also read 2001: A Space Odyssey in 2001. This book has been out for nearly 30 years, so I don't feel bad about the spoilers below.
I really enjoyed this, and I wasn't expecting to. I think it is actually some of his better work. It starts off with a bit of politics, of course US vs Russians which is obviously wrong for the set year, but hey, who knew? However, the Chinese are involved and showing both the other superpowers how to get things done. And that is right on the money. The politics doesn't drag it down though (unlike the film) and in fact it is pretty positive in that respect.
Early on in the mission, they discover aliens living in the seas of Europa. That is cool. They are more dumb creatures than stereotypical intelligent humanoids, and the encounter is strangely compelling and well done.
Then the Russian ship with the Americans finally makes it to Jupiter orbit to recover Discovery (from 2001) and investigate the monolith. They are disappointed with not finding anything useful. Then the real fun begins. Bowman returns and appears to Floyd to tell the crew to get go home early as something wonderful is about to happen. And then the monolith goes all exponential on them, converts Jupiter's atmosphere into a more dense material, and causes it to ignite in fusion producing a second star in the solar system. That is cool.
And then there is a pleasing epilogue where the aliens of Europa have evolved and are sentient, and are protected from the nasty humans by monolith death rays. Or something. Cool!
All good fun.