Crystal Deception by Doug Cooper – 4 stars
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?
I enjoyed this book. The blend of action and intrigue with aliens and AI hit all the sweet spots. Like any good story, I didn’t expect the twists, but they made sense when they happened.
The characters are well fleshed and I liked them. I kind of wish Jack had been handled a bit differently, as his conclusion didn’t seem to fit. The relationships between the characters felt a tiny bit forced, but overall they appealed.
It did become tedious in a few spots, with detailed, blow-by-blow descriptions of actions that just didn’t seem necessary. However, this only happened a couple of times, and they didn’t go on for so long it really bothered me. The end also had a little bit of a pacing issue, where it seemed to keep going even though it felt like it should be done already. Still, everything that happened at the end made sense that it needed to happen.
Overall, I recommend this book for science fiction fans. It’s a good, solid scifi story with aliens and space ships and futuristic computers, and is well done and entertaining.