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!
(Cover picture courtesy of The Independent Author Network Blog.)
Rescue the past to build the future. In 2280 EarthGov is desperate when aliens destroy their first colony. They’ll even comb through the wreckage of the aliens’ UFO that crashed in 1947—where one man claims he’s found a time machine. Now the race is on to scour history for the treasures and talents EarthGov needs.
Sid Feynman just wants a government grant. His hopes for a quiet academic life are dashed when EarthGov thrusts the beautiful historian Nell Playfair upon him and expects Sid to actually use the time machine.
Soon Sid and Nell are rocketing across light-years of interstellar space and millennia of history—seeking that which is lost and finding time.
[Full disclosure: Steve Poling gave me a free ebook in exchange for an honest review.]
Well, that certainly wasn’t what I expected.
That’s a compliment, by the way. Finding Time is a book with many different viewpoints, but Steve Poling handled each of them so well that it was never confusing. The first chapter seems completely unrelated to the rest of the book until later, but when the reason behind the event was revealed it made perfect sense. That’s what made Finding Time so interesting for me: the different narrative threads intertwining perfectly, especially toward the end. I live when things are tied together in a way that makes sense and that is especially important in a time travel story.
I won’t even begin to pretend I understand half of the science behind time travel in this book. Science was never my strong point, but hard science fiction fans will love this book for it. I would have liked the explanations to be “dumbed-down”, but I am not the audience Steve Poling was writing for. Each to their own, really. I’m sure most people will have a better appreciation for his attention to detail than I do.
However, I did appreciate the characters. Nell and Sid were the two main characters and they definitely stood out. Their bickering is priceless, but you can tell that they become good friends by the end. No, they don’t fall in love with each other. Gasp! A male and female lead that don’t fall in love! Call the press! As Steve Poling put it in his initial email to me: “there’s no cussin’, smokin’, or gettin’ nekkid.”
See? It is possible to write a good novel without any of those things! YA writers take note.
I give this book 4.5/5 stars.
*Only available through Amazon in Kindle format.