Cas is back!

Half Life (Russell's Attic Book 2) - SL Huang

Cas is back! Still frighteningly smart. Still capable of factoring all sorts of trajectories and vectors in split-second timing to dodge almost anything. And now, she's added a few more items to her repertoire - ethics and friends! Yes, Cas is struggling with the concepts, but what is fascinating is that we get to be inside her head and watch her slowly evolve and mature. The great thing about Cas is that she doesn't always make the right decision, but has enough self-awareness to acknowledge that and does try to fix things when she can.The cast of characters in the story has expanded a bit in a very realistic and organic way, and the characters themselves are faceted and well written.

The main plotline (there are a couple of side plots too) involves saving an AI 'robot' in the form of a 5-year old girl (Liliana) from the clutches of an evil corporation, but as in the first book of the series, "Zero Sum Game", there are shades of grey in almost every player in this book. And, no matter how endearing and human the emotions portrayed by the AI construct, the emotions are still only programmed, right? They may tug at our heartstrings, but it's only software, right? Yet ... I dunno. I love it when book makes one reconsider some previously held opinions.

This is a fast-paced book with wonderful characters, and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride. The writing was tight and clean, with great touches of humor. There was a glimpse of Rio, and it also touched on events from the first book, including more hints of what might have happened to Cas in the past. I believe the 3rd book in the series is due towards the end of this year, and a new short story featuring Rio is due soon. I can't wait for either.