Recommend by: Riley
Nila Marbela – paradise planet. Destination of tourists from all over the Central Galactic Concordance. If you go, be sure to check the crime forecast. You don’t want to get caught up in a nasty downpour of villains, thieves, murderers, or general evil-doers. And maybe an explosion or two.
Jerzi Adams should have checked the forecast.
Jerzi went to Nila Marbela to visit his daughter Pico at Optimal Polytechnic and take a vacation. The first goal, visiting Pico, sets off a series of events that will be anything but vacation-like. More on those events later.
The nice thing is, this visit allows Jerzi to connect with his old military comrade Andra de Luna. When they were known as Commander Crush and Subcaptain Lightning, they served as gunnin in the same unit. Can’t say that I know what a gunnin actually is. But I put gunnin and military and some of the scenes and Pico’s Crush together and now I assume it means they did something with guns.
Not to be outdone by her father, Pico gets to connect with an old friend too. Space camp buddy Sojaire, who has been the object of Pico’s crush for years, shows up with Jerzi’s friends Mairwen Morganthur and Luka Foxe who are on the paradise planet chasing a serial criminal.
So now you know the title, Pico’s Crush, has two origins – Dad and Sojaire. Actually, there is one more use of the word crush that applies to Pico, but if I explain, it might be kind of spoilerish. Think verb.
I’ve told you about the main cast of characters. I liked that this installment in the Central Galactic Concordance series was a reunion of sorts with the main characters from Overload Flux. (With a cameo appearance by Lieren Song from Minder Rising.)
Professor of Material Science Andra de Luna is a great character. She is my favorite new character. Strong, physically and mentally. Confident. Highly intelligent. Nurturing. But when it comes to Jerzi, she is not so confident. Other than that shyness, she seems to be a bit of a superwoman. As a couple, Andra and Jerzi are great. Their witty banter is entertaining and reflects the true friendship they feel for one another. I really like the slow building romance between Andra and Jerzi.
Enough talk about characters. Let’s get back to the action. Luka and Mairwen are on Nila Marbela following clues to a serial killer and a series of accidental deaths that seem to line up. Not to be outdone by intergalactic criminals, the local planet does have its own crime about to happen and it will all come to a head on the Optimal Polytechnic campus. The unfolding of the intergalactic crimes is told from both sides of the case and let me just say that the perpetrators are really not very nice. As for the local crime, the clues are subtle, but they are all there.
In Pico’s Crush, the CPS, Citizen Protection Service, is not improving its reputation. They are getting more vile and more evil. Hopefully they are headed for a reckoning – just not in this book. They exploit every minder talent out there. “Protection” my *&&. Speaking of minder talents, while I was reading, I thought a glossary of minder talents might be helpful. Guess what? There is one! If you are reading the book and find you forgot what a twister can do, check out Ms. Van Natta’s website Extras page. It is quite helpful!
Diversity is huge in the Central Galactic Concordance series. Just like books 1 and 2, multiple ethnic names and backgrounds and several languages make their appearance in Pico’s Crush. The author seems to go out of her way to introduce some of these elements. I am not always crazy about all the non-English words, but it is about depicting the characters’ nationalities. Generally you get a translation but sometimes you have to infer from context. There are times I think it is overdone. There was a scene with a Chinese family in a restaurant and I am not sure what its purpose was. And yet, there are times I think about social situations I have been in with a variety of ethnic groups and I can actually see this type of world/universe evolving. So, ultimately, I am in favor of the cultural diversity of the Central Galactic Concordance as long as it does not feel contrived.
Because the romantic couples are all portrayed as pretty much even partnerships, I would think, in the Central Galactic Concordance, the proportion of good women to good men is about equal. But except for main characters Jerzi, Luka, Sojaire and Lieren, there are no sympathetic male characters. The males are evil, dim-witted, power-hungry, controlling, crazy or some combination of those traits. On the other hand, there are secondary female characters that are smart, kind, strong and definitely on the side of good. The imbalance puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the few male main characters. They must insure the reader that the universe has more than a few good men.
Pico’s Crush, like the rest of the series, has some cool technology. Whether it is weapons-, transportation- or fashion-related, there are some toys I would like to have. And the cleaning bots. Kind of like a Roomba, but better. Those would be handy. Although, after the students get done with them they get something that reminds me more of John Crichton’s 1812 (Farscape).
The ongoing story line with the CPS is interesting, if a bit creepy, and I look forward to seeing how it will all play out. But mainly, I really enjoyed the characters and romance and the suspense and action in this story. Pico’s Crush is an excellent addition to the series!
And I love the cover art for the series too!
The author provided a review copy in exchange for an honest review.