Crossover is the first novel in a series which follows the adventures of Cassandra Kresnov, an artificial person, or android, created by the League, one side of an interstellar war against the more powerful, conservative Federation. Cassandra is an experimental design - more intelligent, more creative, and far more dangerous than any that have preceded her. But with her intellect come questions, and a moral awakening. She deserts the League and heads incognito into the space of her former enemy, the Federation, in search of a new life.
Her chosen world is Callay, and its enormous, decadent capital metropolis of Tanusha, where the concerns of the war are literally and figuratively so many light years away. But the war between the League and the Federation was ideological as much as political, with much of that ideological dispute regarding the very existence of artificial sentience and the rules that govern its creation. Cassandra discovers that even in Tanusha, the powerful entities of this bloody conflict have wound their tentacles. Many in the League and the Federation have cause to want her dead, and Cassandra?s history, inevitably, catches up with her. Cassandra finds herself at the mercy of a society whose values preclude her own right even to exist. But her presence in Tanusha reveals other fault lines, and when Federal agents attempt to assassinate the Callayan president, she finds herself thrust into the service of her former enemies, using her lethal skills to attempt to protect her former enemies from forces beyond their ability to control.
As she struggles for her place and survival in a new world, Cassandra must forge new friendships with old enemies, while attempting to confront the most disturbing and deadly realities of her own existence.
©2006 Joel Shepherd (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
Crossover starts with a very interesting premise and begins with some real promise as Cassandra, an android, assumes a new identity and tries to start a new life as a civilian in a new society rather than as the soldier she has been. However, just as the story starts to roll out this idea of an android created to be a warrior who has philosophical problems with the war and wants to pursue normal human relationships, work a civilian job, and visit art museums, that whole story abruptly ends. Cassandra is captured and co-opted by her enemy and the entire remaining book (all but the first chapter) is unnatural dialog, incoherent political ruminations, and ridiculous sexual discussions/thoughts (although very little actual sex), and a few good fight scenes that Cassandra inevitably wins. The book would have put me to sleep if it weren't for how very aggravating Joel Shepherd's depiction of adult women is. Cassandra is an engineered humanoid designed to be the ultimate of the HK series (hunter-killer) so my assumption would have been that an android designed to be a warrior wouldn't have any inclination for sex. However, I could buy into Shepherd giving his androids a sex drive (his world after all), but for the fact that Cassandra's model type is imprinted with actual human brain patterns. In that case, Cassandra should think about sex the way a real woman does, not like a 15 yr. old boy does. Think I'm exaggerating? Here's a sample, you decide. This is Cassandra's internal monologue at one point (verbatim), "Damn, give her good food, nice surroundings, and a decent hard shag at least 5 times a week and she was happy. Let the universe rot, she just wanted to get nailed." The actual human women in the book aren't much better and certainly don't ring true as believable characters. Cassandra has a great deal of angst over the politics in her world and how much she loves art although she's a soldier, but in truth, the android doesn't actually seem to care a fig about anything but sex and fighting so the moral/ethical conflict of a thinking/feeling android used for fighting doesn't come off at all. And, I didn't give a flip about Cassandra either. She's a male fantasy - beautiful, smart, strong, and can't get enough sex (oh and of course, very skilled at sex) - she's not a real character. She's supposedly made of some super bio synthetic material, but to me she seemed to be made of cardboard. Her human compatriots aren't any more fleshed out either. You don't really see much political action, just characters thinking about it and talking about it and it's a bit simplistic and convoluted. And, the internal monologues are long, frequent and tiresome.
Dina Pearlman is OK as the narrator. As a previous reviewer noted, she does get better as the book goes on. But this is just not a good book, so it's hard to get too excited about the performance of it.
Thumbs down on this one - don't waste a credit!
She did the best with what she was given, I hope they paid her well.
The book was frustrating to get through. This is what it felt like listening to it: little bit of plot – protagonist explains sex life – little bit of plot – protagonist is questioned about sex life – little bit of plot – protagonist has fond remembrance of sex life – little bit of plot – protagonist has sex and explains about sex life to sex partner – little bit of plot – protagonist calls co-worker and jokes about sex life before telling vital information strangely connected to sex life. While I have never been a teenage boy, it felt like I was being pulled into the mind of one at times and it was difficult not to stop rolling my eyes over and over or at one point bash my head on my desk. It was soooo tiresome, so boring, and so repetitive.Another point of irritation about this book is that it takes place on a plant in the far future, however all the architecture on the planet is exactly like present day earth. There are districts that divide the place the protagonist lives in and they are labelled something like (not kidding here) “Old earth Chinatown”, “Old earth Spanish District”, “Old Earth India”, “Old Earth Whatever with that old earth architecture, music, food, language”. The rest of the place is made up of glass and cement. Seriously. I wanted to like this book. Some of the ideas have already been done, but they were still interesting. The plot had potential. If 90% of the sexual thoughts were cut out of the protagonists head and it was filled with a bit of depth she would be far more interesting and relatable. The only reason I have not asked for my money back was because I wanted to write a review to warn others who have similar tastes in SciFi, against buying this. However if you do ignore me (like I did with the other reviewers) it will really make you appreciate the genuine talents of other Scifi writers out there.
I'd read this trilogy when it was originally published a few years ago. I generally don't read science fiction, being more of a fantasy geek, but the plot seemed interesting, so I bought it and loved it. Joel Shepherd is a great author: the plot, pacing, and characterizations are all quite good. So, my only question before buying this in audio, though I was very excited to see it available, was the narration.
My previous experience with Ms. Pearlman's narration was with "Polgara the Sorceress", which was a good book. I did not, however, care for the narration at all. She has a pleasant enough voice, she just mauled some of the pronunciations of some key places and/or people from the Belgariad series, one of my all time favorites. I couldn't finish it.
So I was nervous about buying this, but having enjoyed the print version so much, and wanting to experience it in audio, I bought it anyway.
She is better in this book, though at first I didn't think I'd be able to finish (which I haven't, but I'm halfway there). Chapter One was rough, she came across as emotionless and bland, and her descriptions were quite boring, not to mention rushed. She got better during Chapter Two, and really hit her stride in Chapter Three and beyond. She differentiates the characters quite well so you always know who's talking, and seems to be good at affecting different accents. She conveys the emotions of the characters very well, and picks up the pace of the narration during the action scenes effectively conveying the urgency of these scenes. It's not perfect, but all in all, I'm impressed, and plan on finishing this trilogy.
Interesting Exciting Fun
Cassandra Kresnov is the main, and my favorite character. I just find her journey fascinating as she progresses through the story as an artificial person trying to fit into a society whose first reaction to her is most often fear.
I definitely spent a lot of time laughing, there is plenty of humor in the book in addition to the action. As for the action there is plenty of that too.
I read this book several years ago and picked up the audio book as soon as I saw it on new releases. I already really enjoyed the story and the narration of the audio book definitely did not disappoint. Definitely happy about spending a credit on this and cannot wait for the sequels to be released.
I'm not sure there was anything I liked "Best". Only things I didn't dislike as much. The writing was unsophisticated, almost juvenile. This isn't necessarily a bad thing as it can make for good escapism that you can just experience without having to think about it too much. However when combined with the "Bad" the unsophisticated tends to lose any of its redeeming quality.
Now for the bad.
1. Exposition! Exposition! Exposition! I frequently found my mind wandering during many of the frequent pauses for the main character to 'reflect' on whatever Mr Shepherd decided needing elucidation at the moment. The first few times when I'd catch myself doing it I would rewind to the point where I was last paying attention. But I realized early on that I really wasn't missing much, definitely nothing that moved the plot forward, so I stopped rewinding and found that I could easily pick up the plot, such as it was.
2. I want to like the main character but find her slightly cartoonish and vaguely unrealized. I feel that Mr Shepherd missed an interesting opportunity for character growth with Cassandra. She had a decidedly non-standard childhood, yet I've seen real life people with a more standard upbringing be much more unstable than she. It made it a lot harder to sympathize with her situation when it seems she doesn't suffer near as much as you'd expect.
I think John Scalzi handled a similar situation better with his Jane Sagan character in the Old Man's War series.
3. While the political situation was interesting the rest of the world seemed flat, and Mr Shepherd seemed to have trouble conveying his ideas for Cassandra' universe, thus all the random expositions that, at least for me, did little to shed any light on the subject.
No, probably not
She's not the worst narrator I've listened to, but she needs to slow down just a bit. And she has some odd inflections and pacing at time as if she didn't understand what the author intended. I blame this as much on the director as her.
Maybe, the action was decent, it would have to have a big SF budget though. And as long as the book is once you cut out all the expository nonsense you'd only have about an hours worth of material left.
I felt there was a lot of untapped potential here. The whole super soldier story line is a hard one to balance and be able to stay inside the suspension of belief zone of most readers. Mr Shepherd tried, but ultimately missed the mark with me, and I can usually overlook quite a bit.
No. This topic has been better rendered by other authors.
The main character was attempting to find herself while being a relatively unfeeling synthetic being. By the time the deeper feelings inevitably came out, we were no longer interested. The attempt to render profound linkage to societal problems came off as illogical and unbelievable.
The slow pace, over dramatization of each and every experience, activity and action. It just drones on and on and on.
All of them.
Just give this a miss unless you need a cure to insomnia.
IT Project Manager in CA. I would say I am a Audio Book Addict...
This a great story that has action a plenty along with a imaginative dissection of the human condition and what being human means. The setting and characters are well imagined and developed using very descriptive prose.
After listening to the story I quickly purchased the second book in the series.
Dina Pearlman is also one of my favorite narrators....
I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath
This had a great start to it and I really thought I was going to love it. The main character is not a robot, not an android, not a clone, but she is artificial. She is sentient, so should she have rights? She started out as a great character and there were some intelligent questions to be answered, but from chapter five on the story stagnated. There was the introduction to the character which was unique. There was an Unwinding episode which was disturbing. There was a trial which was stimulating conversation. Each chapter seemed to have it's own theme. After chapter five, we had a touchy feelie chapter and there was a political chapter, etc. I quit in the ninth chapter. There may have been more interesting chapters later, but I did not know how many of these mundane boring chapters I would have to listen to, to get there.
The drool narrator sucked.
Long term book junkie only recently addicted to audio books. Now my iPod and I are inseparable.
Three things make "Crossover" a good solid science fiction novel: an action-packed cyberpunkish plot about far future inter-stellar political and military intrigue, a willingness to explore the issues around whether an man-made soldier can also be a person and, most of all, strong female characters, especially the artificial soldier herself, Cassandra Kresnov.
Joel Shepard builds his future world with care, paying attention to history. culture, and politics and setting up conflicts that are more complex than good-guys versus bad-guys. He has created a credible, engaging universe that could be the foundation for a good series of books.
The thriller plot has some excellently executed action scenes and just enough political intrigue to vary the pace.
Yet this isn't a "Olympus Has Fallen" you have 24 hours to save the universe kind of book. It's main focus is on Cassandra Kresnov who was built to be a super-soldier but has gone AWOL to see if she can do more with her life. A lot of the novel is spent exploring what it means to be sentient but not human, to look human but to be a formidable weapon, even when unarmed. Joel Shepherd gives this debate an excellent via a gruesome scene, early in the novel, where Cassandra is treated like a thing rather than a person and subjected to unbearable cruelty. By the end of this, I had no doubt Cassandra was a person.
Cassandra is not written a human who happens to have a different biology. She is, in many ways, alien and threatening. She knows why she was built, she just doesn't believe that she has to be bound by her maker's intent. We see her as "Captain Kresnov" commanding a crew of super-soldiers, slightly less advanced than her, who she cares for and who virtually worship her. We see her as the wannabe civilian, looking for a job, going to art galleries, picking up a man, trying to build a life. we watch her build trust, suffer grief, be overwhelmed by anger and crippled by fear. We are given every opportunity to like her. The humans she interacts with are more than foils or plot devices, the SWAT squad leader and the President of the planet are drawn with precise, confident strokes that make them easy to imagine.
I found the start of the book a little slow but I suspect this was more to do with how the book was narrated. Later in the book, Dina Pearlman does an excellent job with both the dialogue (wonderful accents and distinct voices for the main characters) and with action scenes, but her reading of the early scene-setting descriptions and some of Kesnov's internal reflections is a little flat and unsympathetic. I also thought the last chapter of the book could have been omitted or given more bite. But these are small complaints. This was a book I read with pleasure, wanting to know what happened next, caring about the characters and kept interested in the diversity of the world in which the action takes place.
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