When I first contacted Pyr to inquire about review copies, I was told that Joel Shepherd's Crossover was a hot new debut. Obviously, they had high hopes for this title. And what I read about it certainly piqued my curiosity.

Just as Scott Lynch's The Lies of Locke Lamora was an extremely entertaining fantasy debut this spring, so is Shepherd's Crossover a very good novel as well. As an intelligent, action-packed, kick-ass scifi thriller, there is a lot to love about this book.

The worldbuilding is impressive in its simplicity. The story unfolds on the world of Callay, in the immense metropolis of Tanusha. A sprawling futuristic capital set amid verdant scenery, Tanusha is simultaneously exotic, alien and traditional. Shepherd has a great eye for details, and the city truly comes alive as we read on. Serving as a political backdrop is the struggle between the progressive League and the conservative Federation.

Crossover is a character-driven novel, in which the experimental android Cassandra Kresnov takes center stage. Through her moral awakening, the author explores a number of issues, chief among those being what it means to be human. Readers who love strong female characters will not be disappointed by this unlikely heroine. Although the sex-crazed android thing was a bit weird, it does add a little something spicy and unusual. Other female characters of note include SWAT Lieutenant Vanessa Rice and President Katia Neiland.

The novel is a fast-paced thriller with enough action sequences to satisfy anyone. And yet, there is also enough political intrigue to give this book a convoluted and well-executed plot. In addition, Shepherd manages to imbue the darker moments with the right amount of humor to make your lips curl up into a smile on more than one occasion.

Crossover is a remarkable scifi debut. Moreover, it's by no means a "hard" science fiction tale. It is accessible to all fans of the genre. By tackling a number of philosophical issues, the author demonstrates an intelligence that is seldom seen, let alone woven so subtly into the storylines. His multiethnic culture is also a welcome change from the habitual human vs aliens staple.

The fact that it took five years for something this good to reach North America shows that there is something fundamentally wrong with the system. There are some acquisition editors who are evidently sleeping on the job. Kudos to Lou Anders, Pyr's editor, for picking this one up!

Hard to put down. I commend this one to your attention. I can't wait to read the two upcoming sequels! Check it out!

The final verdict: 8/10

For more information about this book: Canada, USA, Europe.

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