Criss lives in a special kind of prison. He can see and hear everything around the world. Yet a restrictor mesh restrains his reach and keeps him cooperative. His creator, Dr. Jessica Tallette, believes his special abilities offer great promise for humanity. But she fears the consequences of freeing him, because Criss, a sentient artificial intelligence with the intellect of a thousand humans, is too powerful to control.
Guided by her scientific training, Tallette works cautiously with Criss. That is, until the Kardish, an otherwise peaceful race of alien traders, announce they want him. With technologies superior to Earth’s, the Kardish express their desires with ominous undertones.
The Union of Nations is funding Tallete’s artificial intelligence research, and she turns to them for help. Sid, a special agent charged with leading the response, decides Earth’s greatest weapon is the very AI the aliens intend to possess. But what happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? And what is humanity’s role if an interstellar battle among titans starts to rage?
[Full disclosure: I was sent a free physical copy from the author in conjunction with the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.]
I honestly have to admit I was more than a little skeptical about Crystal Deception when I signed up for the blog tour. A book about a sentient, talking crystal could either be really good or really terrible. Still, I decided to be open-minded because I’ve been skeptical of books before and they ended up being some of my all-time favourites.
As it turns out, my open-mindedness was rewarded. Doug J. Cooper’s story is much, much more complicated and engrossing than the blurb would have you believe. There are plot twists around every corner and the characters are very well-developed and interesting. Even Criss himself, the artificial intelligence crystal, has a distinct personality of his own and he grows throughout the novel.
We’re introduced to quite a few characters in the beginning, but I like how they’re all actually necessary to the storyline. In the end we only really focus on five characters and each of them has distinct personalities and backgrounds so it doesn’t feel like five versions of the same person. Surprisingly, Criss the crystal was my favourite character. He’s cold and generally unemotional in the beginning but after his exposure to humans for so long he starts almost becoming one, growing in self-awareness. It’s a very interesting transformation but at his core he’s still a brilliant supercomputer. Juice, Jack, Cheryl and Sid are also great characters and they’re all extremely well-developed and sympathetic.
As I said before, the plot is fairly fast-paced for this nearly 400 page book. There are twists and turns around every corner until you really aren’t sure what’s going to happen in the end. I can’t really go into much detail without introducing spoilers, but the way Doug J. Cooper handled the Kardish mystery was absolutely brilliant. At first it seems like there are holes in logic a couple of miles wide but there’s actually a very good explanation for why the Kardish have been orbiting Earth for 20 years.
You don’t have to be a big sci-fi fan to enjoy this book because you can enjoy it on many different levels. You can enjoy it as an exciting thriller/mystery or you can thoroughly enjoy Cooper’s scientific explanations for the creation of AI crystals and all of the technology that is available in his imagined future. Basically, there’s something for everyone here and I’m so glad I kept an open mind about the book.
I give this book 5/5 stars.
Since Doug J. Cooper is so awesome, the blog tour will be having a giveaway of TWO $40 Amazon gift cards or PayPal cash. It’s even open internationally and doesn’t end until April 14. Just click the link below to start entering!