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Mass Effect Novels #4

Mass Effect: Deception

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An all-new adventure inspired by the award-winning videogame from BioWare!

The universe is under siege. Every fifty thousand years, a race of sentient machines invades our galaxy to harvest all organic life-forms. They are the Reapers.

Two people who know the truth are desperately searching for a way to stop the cycle: Navy admiral David Anderson and his partner, Kahlee Sanders. They have uncovered grisly evidence proving that the Reaper threat is real. But in so doing they have exposed the machinations of Cerberus, a secretive paramilitary organization, and its mysterious leader, the Illusive Man—putting David and Kahlee in mortal danger, for Cerberus will stop at nothing to protect its secrets.

But along the way, they find an unlikely ally in Gillian Grayson, a young woman with extraordinary powers. Once the subject of horrifying scientific experiments, Gillian is now free—and beginning to master her deadly abilities. But after learning that Cerberus was responsible for the death of her father, Gillian swears vengeance against the group and the Illusive Man—threatening to unravel everything Kahlee and David are fighting for.

336 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 2012

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About the author

William C. Dietz

119 books407 followers
New York Times bestselling author William C. Dietz has published more than fifty novels, some of which have been translated into German, Russian, and Japanese. He grew up in the Seattle area, served as a medic with the Navy and Marine Corps, graduated from the University of Washington, and has been employed as a surgical technician, college instructor, and television news writer, director and producer. Before becoming a full-time writer Dietz was director of public relations and marketing for an international telephone company. He and his wife live near Gig Harbor, Washington.

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Displaying 1 - 29 of 141 reviews
Profile Image for Shannon.
3,097 reviews2,383 followers
February 7, 2012
There are so many errors in this book that a fan-created Google document was started to list them.

Contains glaringly obvious errors concerning the lore, timeline, and characters including "a character 'growing up' from being autistic, turning Mass Effect's only gay male character straight, and being literally impossible to reconcile with the timeline made by the games, comics, and other books."

Sad that this was even published.

And you know you're in trouble when Penny Arcade cares:

BioWare's response:
"The teams at Del Rey and BioWare would like to extend our sincerest apologies to the Mass Effect fans for any errors and oversights made in the recent novel Mass Effect: Deception," said BioWare community leader Chris Priestly. "We are currently working on a number of changes that will appear in future editions of the novel. We would like to thank all Mass Effect fans for their passion and dedication to this ever-growing world, and assure them that we are listening and taking this matter very seriously."
August 26, 2016
Leading up to the release of this book, I re-read all three of Drew Karpyshyn's novels. I've always enjoyed them in the past, and so I wanted to see the story continue. I was mildly concerned when I saw that Karpyshyn had moved on, but William C. Dietz had a decent track record, so I figured this book would probably turn out okay.

Boy, was I mistaken. As soon as I opened the book, I could tell something was wrong. I like quality writing, but I'm usually able to enjoy pretty much anything. Unfortunately the writing in this book is of extremely poor quality. In places it makes it very hard to get through. The language is sloppy, the narrative is very confused, and it's full of poor grammar.

Now if this was all that was wrong with the book, I supposed I would dock it a few points and leave it at that. But this is tie-in fiction. That's where it's biggest weakness comes into play. As I read through the book, I became more and more confused. The problem is simple: the book appears to have been written by someone who had no knowledge of the previous three books, or the subject matter in general. The timeline is impossible to reconcile with the other books. Numerous terms are misused. Characters lose important traits, and act out of character at seemingly every point. The book is full of these issues. It's very hard to understand how they made their way through quality control.

Even setting these problems aside, the book has little to offer. The characters, both returning and new, are flat and uninteresting. The audience is asked to accept as fact various things that seems to make little sense.

All in all, I'm extremely disappointed. Anyone who enjoyed the previous three books is going to be sorely disappointed when they reach the end of this installment. It really is a shame, because the series once held such promise.

I hope this review is helpful in making an informed decision. There are also various excerpts available online, and I urge you to read them for yourself, so you can see the issues I've detailed, before committing your hard-earned cash to purchasing this book.
Profile Image for Ginta.
2 reviews2 followers
February 11, 2012
I will just post this from the BioWare Forum:
Someone With Mass2:

"How completely worthless is this novel when the entire plot contained within is MEANINGLESS? The only major outcome that occurs in Deception is that the three characters previously created in the novel Ascension - Gillian, Hendel, and Nick - are all randomly killed off at the very end for no other purpose other than to erase their existence from the Mass Effect universe. Other than that, nothing matters in this novel to the plot of the Mass Effect series, NOTHING - Anderson and Kahlee make no progress into investigating either Cerberus or the Reapers, the Council still actively dismisses the existence of the Reapers, there is no mention of the events of Arrival or the escalating tensions between the Alliance and the batarians over it, there is no active effort by Cerberus into any of their secret projects... none of the characters grow or evolve, none of the conflicts previously established in other Mass Effect media are resolved, nothing is any different for the Mass Effect universe or its characters from the beginning of this novel to its end, not a single darn thing...

This is no "lead-in" to the Mass Effect 3 video game, as some of the game developers previously claimed... there's nothing for it to lead to anywhere! It's utterly pointless, a waste of the trees used to make the paper to print this worthless book and a waste of the time and energy of anyone who bothers to read through it from start to finish.

If you're a fan of science fiction, there is literally an infinite selection of better novels out there that are worth your time.
If you're a fan of Mass Effect and its lore... just wipe this stain clean from your mind and pretend that it never existed."
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Susan Lulgjuraj.
127 reviews5 followers
February 5, 2012
Video gamers can live in their own world, falling in love with characters and making choices that effect the direct outcome . Not all video games are like that, but the Mass Effect series is.

The Mass Effect series is it's own world where fans of the games can dive into this sci-fi universe with comics and books as well, helping paint a picture of a battle that is about to commence in the third video game.

As one of the people who fell in love with Mass Effect, I've read the books, bought the comics and even have a lithograph or two decorating the walls. The story behind the video game series was well thought out and gives the gamer a chance to play the hero of the story as a male or female while trying to save the universe from utter destruction from an ancient species whose main goal is to wipe out the existence of the current alien races, including humans.

Mass Effect: Deception by William C. Dietz (who has written other video game genre books) is the fourth book in the series. Dietz has taken over the series from Drew Karpyshyn who wrote the first three books. The first three books offered a gap between games, a way to fill in the time line of things doing on that didn't surround Commander Shephard, the hero of the video games. This book did not feel like a lead-in to the third game, which is due out in March.

The latest book didn't offer much in the way a gap because it didn't offer an explanation of time, but that wasn't the biggest problem. For the most part, the people reading are fans of the series. They are going to know the history of the Mass Effect inside and out. So you cannot have someone write a book who hasn't done research or doesn't stay true to the characters.

It seems as though Dietz made up things about the Mass Effect universe he didn't know about.

Characters were changed to fit the book without remarking on a history that has already been established. Gilliam Grayson, who was said to be high-functioning autistic, has suddenly become an 18-year-old woman who has no societal problems. A homosexual character suddenly found himself ogling women. The lore of Mass Effect seemingly changed with Dietz's book.

How bad was it?

A Google document was created citing the 80 or so errors on lore, timeline and continuity.

Then, just a few days ago, this announcement was released by in the BioWare – the company who created Mass Effect – Community forum.

“Mass Effect fans have been asking for a comment on recent concerns over Mass Effect: Deception. We have been listening and have the below response on the issue.

The teams at Del Rey and BioWare would like to extend our sincerest apologies to the Mass Effect fans for any errors and oversights made in the recent novel Mass Effect: Deception. We are currently working on a number of changes that will appear in future editions of the novel.

We would like to thank all Mass Effect fans for their passion and dedication to this ever-growing world, and assure them that we are listening and taking this matter very seriously.”

Fans of the series know their tales. There is a wiki page set up for Mass Effect that includes the lore from multiple of outlets. The book was disappointing from that standpoint because it didn't seem to ever fit into the Mass Effect world except that characters with the same names were in it.

Mass Effect fans should not get this book. But instead read the wiki page with the summary. But in reality, nothing happens in this book worthy any great significance, which was another problem.

The council still doesn't believe the Reapers are a threat and there was no new information on The Illusive Man.

Patches work well in video games, but not sure how well a patch can fix up this book.

Read more at WordsbySooz.com
Profile Image for Jason.
205 reviews15 followers
July 27, 2012
I am a huge Mass Effect fan, and I am also a fan of William Dietz's "Legion of the Damned" series. "Deception" got a lot of bad reviews after it was released; fans were angry at inaccuracies in the Mass Effect lore and universe, inconsistencies involving the earlier books written by Drew Karpyshyn, and even plain, bad writing. I have confidence in Mr. Dietz, and I'm willing to excuse some inaccuracies in Mass Effect lore, so after finishing "Mass Effect: Retribution", I turned my attention to "Deception".

Picking up where "Retribution" left off, David Anderson and Kahlee Sanders have finally started a real relationship after fifteen or twenty years holding off, and report the Reaper corruption of Paul Grayson to the Citadel Council. Their claims are dismissed (though one alien ambassador is interested in further investigation), and they turn their attention to tracking down two teenager biotics (people who can mentally manipulate mass effect fields, giving them superpowers). The first is Nick, one of Kahlee's students from the Ascension Project who has fallen in with the Biotic Underground (which seeks to supplant all authority with biotics), and Gillian Grayson, the daughter of Paul Grayson. After spending time in virtual exile among the quarians, Gillian has returned to track down and kill the man who destroyed her father, the mysterious leader of the pro-human terrorist organization Cerberus, the Illusive Man.

OVERALL: 1.6 out of 5
As a fan of Mass Effect, I was sorry to see NUMEROUS continuity and background errors in the established storyline, characters, history, and lore of the Mass Effect universe. However, I could overlook them for an engaging story and interesting characters.

Until the last quarter of this book, it unfortunately does not deliver.

Most of the characters are either stupid and annoying (teenagers who run off to do stupid things without a lot of prior exposition to establish their motives, other ideas they have, etc.), or just plain boring. The villains (Kai Leng and the Illusive Man) are the most engaging, but I don't think the reader is supposed to cheer for them.

The story isn't bad, but it takes a long time to go anywhere and it's hard to tell what exactly is going through the heads of the main characters (particularly Anderson and Kahlee). Anderson even forgets about the thing that drives him through the video games and is reminded by a phone call that wakes him up near the end.

There are people who have accused Dietz of just collecting a paycheck (the technical execution of this book is deplorable), and others who have wondered if he was just in over his head (playing with someone else's toys and not knowing what he was doing). I don't know what the situation was, but I do know that he is better than this. I don't like trashing anyone's work, and I've tried to keep that attitude out of both my reading and this review. The low grade I've given this book should be considered an honest evaluation from a fan of science fiction (including some of his other books), and a challenge for him to rebound and produce something great.

BioWare and Del Rey claim they are going to release a new version that will correct the numerous errors, but I don't think they will make the story more interesting, the characters more relatable, or fix the numerous examples of lazy/bad/unedited writing. Assuming the Mass Effect property isn't closed now that the third game has been released, and that Drew Karpyshyn won't return for another novel (he left BioWare and is working on his own projects), I am thinking that they will need to think long and hard about any further books, who should write them, what they should be about, and the process of editing and cleaning up a final product before publication.

As is, this book is an unfortunate low-point for the Mass Effect series, currently a low ending for the series of novels, and a low-point for Mr. Dietz. I would like to see all three come roaring back.

CHARACTERS: 1 out of 5
I don't think most of the characters are necessarily poorly written in this book, but they do feel empty. Dietz can write interesting characters (I still frequently think of Poseen-ka from "Legion of the Damned"), but everyone in this book was someone else's creation and it shows.

Some characters are violated. Gillian goes from a twelve-year old girl suffering from autism to an eighteen-year old brat (in just two years) going through a severe temper tantrum, and Hendel Mitra is transformed from a take-charge, can-do guy to a meathead (and also seems to have become heterosexual after his time spent with the quarians in "Retribution"). Kai Leng, though initially out-of-character, quickly returns to form and is humanized in good ways. Unfortunately, one good character in a book swimming with shallow and bad ones just isn't enough.

PACE: 2 out of 5
The first half of this book was slow. Anderson and Kahlee kind of fumble around while worrying about the Reapers and then losing the teenage kid in their charge (Nick). Hendel Mitra and Gillian Grayson show up for a short reunion, Kai Leng gets the exciting job of recovering a dead body, etc. Halfway through the book, once everyone is on Omega and plotting against each other, things pick up.

STORY: 2 out of 5
This story was meandering for me. Different motivations and reasons bring the characters together, but most of it doesn't work for me. Two rebellious, annoying teenagers seem to be at the core of everyone's concern, and that bothers me. The Reapers (you know, the threat to all advanced civilizations in the galaxy that Anderson has been fighting against in one form or another for half of his life) are barely mentioned, and there are boring tasks galore for characters to complete.

By the end of the book, things have picked up. The Biotic Underground has angered the powerful criminal queen of a lawless asteroid habitat even while they target the Illusive Man and the Cerberus pro-human terrorist group for termination (overreaching on their part, but intriguing), a dangerous Cerberus operative is captured, and some interesting things do happen. In the end, the big "deception" lasts a couple of paragraphs, and the lead-up to it was only five or ten pages. The numerous smaller deceptions through the book don't necessarily justify the title.

DIALOGUE: 2 out of 5
Dialogue is a direct byproduct of characters in most cases, and this book is no exception. Anderson and Kahlee are boring and feel like they're just going through the motions (interludes of "domestic" conversation between them are almost painful), Gillian and Nick (the two teenagers) are just annoying, and Hendel Mitra lacks any wisdom in his words, regardless of his actions, past experience, etc. (not that he displays any great wisdom in most of his actions either).

Kai Leng (the Cerberus operative), the Illusive Man, and Aria T'Loak (the criminal mastermind of Omega) have better dialogue (probably because they're also the more interesting characters), though they still don't seem to totally match with the dialogue in video games and previous books.

I believe William Dietz is a good author... but the ball was dropped on this book's execution. Sentences end in strange places. Others begin in stranger places. But others still end in strange places. Several parts felt refined and well done, and then it would abruptly switch to "first draft" mode. I doubt the author is to be blamed, but unfortunately I can't really rate "editing" or "editor's work". In a final read-through, Dietz should have caught these things and asked his editor, "What is anyone paying you for?"
Profile Image for Sesana.
5,336 reviews343 followers
Shelved as 'dnf-or-not-gonna-happen'
March 2, 2012
I am a huge, huge fan of Mass Effect, and I've really enjoyed the tie ins that I've read to this point. The first three novels were all written by Drew Karpyshyn, who wrote for the games. The two that I've read so far were solid stories that fit into the established ME universe. I hate to say that I wouldn't trust this novel, written by William C. Dietz, with a ten foot pole... But I wouldn't touch this book with a ten foot pole if you paid me.

Obviously, Dietz took this assignment without knowing anything in the slightest about Mass Effect, and never took the time to learn. It shows, painfully. Others have done a very throrough job of documenting the errors, so I won't get into details. Most of the errors are "just" major research errors into the ME canon, but it gets worse. And honestly, just plain offensive. Offensive like a character previously established as gay (and the only unambiguously and openly gay character in the ME universe) being made straight. Or a character who had been diagnosed with autism being described as having problems as an adolescent that she grew out of.

How bad is it really? So bad that Del Rey and Bioware issued an official apology and promised to edit the errors out of future editions of the book. But that would essentially require re-writing the entire thing, and Bioware doesn't always fix what it says it'll fix anyways. The safest bet is to just pretend the book doesn't exist.
1 review
January 31, 2012
Mass Effect Deception is the worst book out of the series of novels.

The setting is mishandled completely. It feels as if the author has no sense of this universe or the people who live in them. There are dozens of errors with the lore including: characters who are alive who should be dead, timeline errors that make characters older than they should be, changes a major character's sexuality, deems autism something to be grown out of, the very nature of several alien species, and more.

If you are interested and want a full list of errors in this novel just run a search for the Mass Effect: Deception Discussion Thread.

At the same time characters act laughably about of character and the ending is very rushed.

I would urge anyone who enjoys prose and Mass Effect to avoid this novel at all costs.
Profile Image for An.
28 reviews16 followers
Shelved as 'dropped'
June 5, 2016
OKAY, SO. I've read the first three Mass Effect books by Drew Karpyshyn, and while they may not have been spectacular examples of stellar writing, the storytelling was great, the plots were great, the character development was GREAT, and I just generally loved all three of them! I enjoyed expanding my canon knowledge and getting to know some characters way better than the games allowed, and, well, yeah. I'm a huge Mass Effect fan. Which is why the possibility of this fourth book (suddenly not by Karpyshyn, but by William C. Dietz) being terrible wasn't something I was willing to consider, even after accidentally stumbling upon some really bad reviews, and I'm still adamant about giving it the fairest of chances.

I'm going to try and document all the plot holes and timeline inconsistencies here as I come across them (for personal compulsive reasons), so SPOILER ALERT. I am probably going to spoil something, I'm not even going to try not to. So please, please, please stop reading now if you don't want this book spoiled for you. I will not focus on Dietz's writing style, even though it doesn't sit quite well with me (Volus being described as roly-poly? Are we 6?).

Here goes nothing.

Profile Image for Mogsy.
2,073 reviews2,634 followers
September 13, 2015
Hard to believe, but I have actually read worse. Which is why this book isn't getting the one star treatment from me that many other reviewers have chosen to give.

But I'm probably being generous. After all, I was aware of the many errors and lore screw-ups that exist in this book, but I mostly chose to ignore them as I was reading. Granted, I give you that there were a few glaring, unforgivable mistakes. But quite honestly? You probably won't even notice most of them unless you're a hardcore Mass Effect fan going over the book line-by-line with a fine toothed comb. And a lot of them are so trivial that it makes no difference to the story anyway. I had the added benefit of reading the previous ME books a while ago, long enough for me to not remember the finer details anyway. As such, I was willing to let a lot of the errors slide.

Still. Errors aside, this book was just pretty bad. Mostly because it's poorly written, at least in my opinion. After all, how could a book with this much action in it yet be so boring? The writing is dry, unimaginative, unsophisticated, crude, clumsy. It's like Dietz barely even tried. To me, that's the biggest departure from the previous ME novels written by Drew Karpyshyn. At least you could tell DK cared about the IP; it's in the way he built up the world in the first three books, and in the manner he treated and developed his characters.

In any case, I found myself constantly drifting off while I was trying to get through this book, and was relieved when it was finally over. The way it went, I couldn't have cared enough to spot many of the lore mistakes while I was reading anyway, as I was too busy trying to stay awake.
Profile Image for Jena.
585 reviews132 followers
June 10, 2021
I realized I never reviewed this trash on GR. Skip it. Just read the Google Doc that goes into detail about every error in this book instead.

Does have the hilarious scene where Kai Leng breaks into Anderson's apartment and steals some cereal.
57 reviews5 followers
Shelved as 'so-bad-ill-never-read-it'
February 11, 2012
I will not give a rating to this book--it is evidently a piece of utter, utter shit, and one only has to read the reviews both here and on Amazon to see why. I am in fact writing this review for a purpose much broader and more entertaining than that: I am going to express my intense loathing of William Dietz as a writer, and hope--just hope--that this article gets read by a larger audience.

Mr. Dietz is a hack: a big, pompous, self-aggrandizing hack who has spent far too long passing as a decent writer of video-game novel adaptions and who is only now being seen for the complete, utter, atrocious example of a hack that he truly is. When he isn't writing video game fiction of such odious quality as were both this adaption or the one I was unlucky enough to read, he is writing other works of such low quality that they commonly get one-star reviews on Amazon, where this review from Publisher's Weekly can be found, regarding his book Deathday:

Honestly, to get that review from that source, you must be truly a bad author--I have only rarely seen such a negative review from that magazine on Amazon.

My point is that, though it was partly Bioware's fault for approving this piece of shit--just as it was the fault of Insomniac for publishing the novel I read--there is much in this matter that should be blamed entirely on Mr. Dietz himself. I do not wish any ill on Mr. Dietz--since I have never met him, I shall assume nothing about his personality--but, I sincerely hope that, now that this man has screwed up so disastrously on this novel, he will be rightly shunned by every publisher with access to a profitable market and will need to go into another line of work--preferably a profitable one not having anything to do with creative writing of any sort.

Perhaps it is likely that my wish will come true--Mass Effect fans surely would agree with me that it should--but even if not, there is one good thing that has resulted from this: now that I know that this man is perhaps the ultimate example of bad writing in video game adaptions, it makes me wonder as to whether other writers may actually be decent. I will have to see...
June 9, 2021
I had planned on reading every piece of lore written about the Mass Effect universe to completion this time around, but man, I had to DNF this steaming mess a little over the halfway mark. It's sloppily written, with no care given to the lore at all - Dietz obviously did no research into the Mass Effect universe, and it really shows. Not only was no care taken in representing things that had been established in-game, but it wasn't even consistent with the previous books! It even manages to undo diverse representation, which is a feat in and of itself.

Add to all of that the fact that it just didn't really enhance the story in any way, and it became a book that was just impossible to finish. Given that it will have no appeal to Mass Effect fans, so doesn't work as a video game tie-in, and isn't particularly well-written or engaging, I just can't see who the audience is for Mass Effect: Deception. No one should read this book.
Profile Image for Keith.
164 reviews3 followers
January 31, 2013
I'd heard about the fan rage against this book long before sitting down to read it, and as someone who read the first 3 and happily enjoyed this one I'm really not sure what all the fuss is about. Sure there are inconsistencies with the previous lore, and it doesn't feel quite as authentically ME as the others so it would have been nice to have had Karpyshyn continue things.

But I can't say any of that brought me out in hives or caused me to lose any sleep. The way people are reacting it's as if William C. Dietz ate their first-born child and then pooped on their carpet. It's the ugly side of fandom, and reeks of the sense of entitlement that lead to people throwing their toys out the pram about the ending to ME3 just because they didn't have the sense or imagination to enjoy it fully. That nerd rage resulted in a tacked on inferior ending with talked down to us and made a point of spelling out every little thing that anyone with any intelligence or imagination drew their own conclusions on after a bit of thought and discussion anyway.

But I digress (massively, sorry!). My point is chill out. Ignore the things you don't like or that niggle you and enjoy it for what it is, a welcome addition to the ME universe. It's not the best ME product out there, but it's not worth throwing a tantrum over either. I liked it.
24 reviews2 followers
May 1, 2014
Gillian finds out that her father was killed and is looking for Kahlee and Anderson for help. She tells them what happened with the quarian flotilla. Gillian finds out that the Illusive man killed her father. She wants to kill the Illusive man, so she joins the biotic underground. They set up a meeting with the Illusive man for a trade. They wanted to give money for their agent Kai Leng, to get him back.

Kahlee Sanders is a lead scientist of humanity. Hendel is the security chief for the Ascension project. Gillian is a young girl with a lot of potential for harnessing her biotic powers. Anderson is one of the top military soldiers for humanity. Nick is also a biotic, from the Grayson Academy.

Abandoned mining world in the Crescent Nebula is one of the settings in the story. Another takes place at the Citadel and thats where all the species meet with really important information of what's going on. Another takes place on Omega which is a crime world with no police. This takes place in the year 2151.

I think ages 16-32 should read this book. Both genders can read the book. It’s a very good book that I really enjoyed reading and I don’t like reading much. It was a very interesting. This was filled with adventure and action. This was the best book/series that I have ever read!

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Samantha.
1,016 reviews50 followers
April 20, 2015
Hmm....I was really excited about reading this book. Ive never played the games, but have a friend who does and is pretty into it so I figured Id give it a shot.

At thebeginning I was having a lot of fun with it. Seeing all the schemes and plots of opposing forces come to fruition and collide. Very fun...until I got to the end. I dont wanna ruin the book for anyone, but seriously? That was it? Let's just erase all the heard work we did and take a bajillion steps backward. And those Reapers mentioned at the beginning? Nonexistant and only mentioned sparsely. Lots of action sequences and tracking people and spying on them, but not nearly enough for me to be happy with the ending. Is this how they get money? Start a series and then erase all the work started throughout th ebook so youre forced to get whatever they comeup with next?

I enjoyed the book for the most part, but the end.....Im not fully satisfied. And at onepoint after I finished it...a random thought popped into my head. "I just read an intergalactic Hamlet" I might pick up one of the previous books, and I might pick one up that comes out later, if one does or already has.....but Im not quite sold just yet.
1 review
August 31, 2016
A perfect example of fan exploitation.

The glaring inconsistencies in this book are beyond reconcilable. The errors not only go against the details of a rich, expansive universe, but against basic timeline and plot elements established in previous books. Any avid reader, despite their knowledge of Mass Effect, would note the disparity between this and previous novels. From characters aging years in a matter of months, dead characters reprising their role, and fundamental values of characters being rewritten or ignored, Mass Effect: Deception undoes almost 5 years of work in a mere 300 pages.

Despite the author's shortcomings, the real fault lies with those who edited and reviewed the work prior to release. It is an insult that a company would consider this fodder sufficient for fans of Mass Effect. This book has no target market; it is not for casual sci-fi readers, it is not for fans of the author, and it is most certainly not for fans of Mass Effect.
Profile Image for Tom Attard.
17 reviews
March 17, 2013
So how much should you expect from a genre book based on a game franchise? More.

The allure for the game for me was always the story elements, so I gave the novels a go and was pleasantly surprised by the earlier books. Deception however, is just abysmally written trash.

Well written characters and plots can give a sense of suspense or excitement because they engage the reader enough to have a feel for struggle or triumph or heartache that will evolve from relationships and events. Lacking any of that depth, Dietz resorts to explaining, almost in dot point fashion, the details of each scene.

The writing is stilted, and the continuous battery of endless short sentences becomes almost painful. The end result is a book that detracts from, rather than enriches, the world in which it is set.
Profile Image for T.M. Carper.
Author 15 books17 followers
May 10, 2015
Kind of a downer of a novel and a different style of writing compared to the other books (different author than first three) - mainly because of the headers constantly stating where the characters are. But it continues Kahlee's misadventures against the Illusive Man and Kai Leng with help from Anderson. Pre-ME3.
Profile Image for Callum Shephard.
324 reviews32 followers
September 27, 2012
This novel is bad, quite possibly one of the worst in terms of quality I’ve seen recently.

As bad as Revan was, at least in that you could see some quality in the writing when the author wasn’t openly flipping off at Bioware fans. But this? One member on the Cerberus Daily News forum described it best - “It’s like parody written by someone who doesn't know it's parody. Except worse.”

In all honesty, the plot does make the book sound promising. Gillian Grayson, the MEverse’s River Tam, has been in hiding with the Quarian Flotilla since the events of Ascension. A batarian slaver ship attacks the cruiser she is on and in a battle the quarians manage to capture it, from a imprisoned Cerberus agent on board Gillian learns her surrogate father Paul Grayson was experimented upon and killed by the Illusive Man.

From this description you’d expect an average novel. Perhaps a cliché ridden one which doesn’t match up to the quality of the games but isn’t overly bad. You would not expect it to be the latest milestone in the rapid decline in quality of Bioware products. To explain exactly why, this review is going to go through each screw up step by step, to show you just how bad it really is.
If you don’t want a detailed guide and just know if it’s worth getting – avoid it at all costs. There is absolutely nothing of worth to be found in this novel and many elements of it lessen the Mass Effect universe as a result of its existence.

With that done, now onto the analytical evisceration.

The biggest fault in the whole thing is that William C. Dietz makes the most amateur mistake in writing, constantly telling the audience things and not showing them. The entire book is written in an incredibly dry, matter-a-fact style which would be better suited to Wikipedia, not an action novel staring a psychic super being on a vengeful rampage. Here’s what you can expect to see in the many action scenes –
What happened next came as a complete surprise to the krogan as Gillain triggered the biotic power called “charge”. Rather than running away from the guards Gillian pounded straight at them. Within the space of three steps her body became a blur and she could feel additional strength coursing through her body as she hit one of the reptiles and sent the brute flying.

There’s no life to it, the action scenes are completely sterile and feel motionless. The whole thing is utterly devoid of activity and even full scale gunfights, explosions or wetworks operations are so poorly written they're either dull or become laughable. The characters are even worse.
None of the Mass Effect tie-in books had characters which were truly three dimensional, but they at least had some slight depth to them. Everything in this book reduces them to their bare basic characteristics.

Take Nick Donahue, a recurring figure of the last books and a fairly simple character. He was an arrogant, brash, overconfident and saw nothing wrong with using his powers against others but was competently written. In the last book there was a very awkwardly implemented sexual desire by him to bang one of his teachers. Dietz focuses heavily on this last bit so we get frequent moments like this –
But [Nick] couldn't resist watching Mythra Zon leave the building. She had a high forehead, wide-set eyes and perfect lips. The asari was shapely as well.
There’s even an entire bit with Nick seeing an asari and just sitting there, daydreaming about screwing her. It turns up dozens more times than it needs to, and to make matters worse Nick is one of the more logically written characters. Unfortunately no, that’s not a joke. He really is.

Gillian Grayson isn’t so much a character as she is a blank slate with the ability to kill people with her mind. She has practically no personality or detailed reactions which feel remotely engaging. This is a character who was turned into superweapon at a young age, raised by a dying race who fight robots, and is motivated to fight a shadowy organisation to avenge the death of her one parent – and reading about her feels dull!
Not only that, Gillian pulls off a lot of stuff which in this universe which is not only extremely unlikely, but is utterly impossible. For example, her powers.
She’s supposed to be extremely strong, has skills which few could wish for let alone attain and the previous book showed her massacring Cerberus troops. So you’d expect her most basic abilities like telekinesis to be able to flip tanks. The problem is the abilities themselves.

Quarians are specifically noted to have few to no bioitics at all, yet when Gillian shows up she is lobbing around Throw, Singularity, Charge and Reave. The latter is something you could only get very late on in the games through advanced training and a couple of others she never displayed in previous appearances. The quarians sure as hell didn’t teach them so her so where did she learn them? It gets worse. Apparently, according to the canon, it’s physically impossible to have one biotic being capable of Charge and Singularity due to the way they both work. Not only that but apparently Gillian’s version of Singularity causes people to explode, something it’s never done in past depictions, and it’s treated like the normal thing to happen.

Between the sudden gaining of skills, ability to do the physically impossible and “supercharged” versions of normal powers doing things they’ve never been hinted to do before she doesn’t come across like an enhanced badass. She reads like a Mary Sue in someone’s bad fanfiction, and it only gets worse later on.

If you’re enough of a fan of the games the first thing you’re probably going to notice is wrong is the names of the quarian characters. The only characters with correctly structured names are the ones who turned up in previous books and were spelled correctly there. One specifically irritating bit is that the “vas” in names is capitalized when it only indicates which ship they’re a part of. This would be like in a fantasy book having characters listed like Theoden Son Of Thengel. None of them, saved for the aforementioned exceptions have surnames either. It’s something which could have been easily fixed by an editor and Dietz should have noticed when looking up names.

What also should have been easily noticed by an editor was the small technical detail he threw in to the slaver ship, noting it to have a “Standard Tantalus Drive Core”. For those not in the know a Tantalus Drive Core was the thing the SSV Normandy was famed for having, the thing which made it cost as much as a heavy cruiser and gave it extremely advanced stealth capabilities. It was also experimental. It’s also worth noting that this was found on a batarian ship, a race that is constantly on the verge of total war against the human Systems Alliance.
Finding this would be like finding the stealth technology of an American prototype military aircraft on some random North Korean cargo plane and learning it’s a standard bit of technology. Within two years of said technology being created. Words cannot describe the stupidity.
Unfortunately for us this is not even the peak of the technology related problems, that is tied into the Citadel’s version of Chinatown: Hu-town. A town which is described as this – There were no aliens to be seen. Just tired, hollow-eyed humans. They had entered a ghetto called Hu-Town.
Dumb name aside it’s understandable that the Citadel would have a ghetto and it’s understandable that at least some of the population would be human. But an entire town of them?
Humans have been throwing themselves to the ends of the known galaxy creating new colonies, not rushing to find jobs on the Citadel. There are species who are far more prejudiced against and have much more trouble finding jobs like the quarians, krogan and possibly vorcha. All of who have been around for much longer than humanity has and yet it’s hundreds of humans who are on the Citadel being put into poverty. Well, poverty might not be the right word as apparently shops are selling SPECTRE grade equipment.
No, that actually happens. Gillian arrives in Hu-town and in a shop and is able to get a HMBA Master Bio-Amp from it to help enhance her biotic capabilities. She is finding the equipment of the galaxy’s best special forces in a ghetto! This defies all logic!

Oh, and then futuristic Mad Max raiders appear.
Again, not making this up –
They were a scruffy-looking bunch who wore face paint, were dressed in mismatched pieces of armor, and rode power skates. They were called the Lightnings and were known for their hit-and-run-style robberies
Mad Max raiders on Back to the Future style hoverboards. In Mass Effect. The book is literally doing my job for me, shooting itself in the foot so hard that it appears to be determined to drive away readers. Not only this but it actually tries to one up itself in terms of ridiculous and out of place methods of travel, as we later on get this gem –
“Look!” Anderson exclaimed “Gyrocycles!” I saw them on the way in. Let's grab one.” “You can drive it?” A much younger version of Anderson appeared when he smiled. “I can con a spaceship, can't I?”
Ignoring the obvious point of asking why is Anderson acting so out of character and where all his brain cells went, it needs to be pointed out we’ve jumped from Mad Max to Ratchet and Clank. Not one bit of this even registers as being Mass Effect related any more and feels like it’s come right out of 90s Image comics.

And finally there’s the book’s portrayal of Cerberus. Throughout the series Cerberus has been presented as an operation working from the shadows, ones working for humanity but are openly opposed by most humans due to their methods. Both the Systems Alliance and Citadel races deem them terrorists and they have been shown to willingly massacre and torture others to further humanity’s power.
They are, above all things, secretive very smart Machiavellian agents who are good at covering their tracks.

So what does this book do? It gives them a PR department. One which openly approaches mainstream media outlets to try and create recruitment advertisements for them –
Leng explained. “The mainstream media won't run our ads so we're using guerilla marketing techniques to put the message out. This includes wall crawls in places like Hu-Town, pirate sites on the extranet, and a network of flesh and blood storytellers, all trained to tell tales about the rise of humanity.”
Oh, and apparently humanity has absolutely no problem with them killing humans, leading their forces into traps and being responsible for as many human deaths as alien ones –
“Our polling shows that even though members of the other races tend to have negative impressions of Cerberus, most humans feel we are a positive influence.”

That small tremor you just felt is every Mass Effect fan from here to the ends of the earth banging their head against the nearest hard surface.

To conclude, this one is shockingly bad. The only thing which elevates it above the likes of Arms-Commander and Revan is that it wasn’t written to openly spite the reader. Even taking that into consideration both of those books were much better written than this one.
Bioware just doesn’t seem to care any more. We’ve seen a steady decline in the quality of the tie-in-novels they produce and this one is the worst Mass Effect one by far. As much as the review might have bashed William C. Dietz, he has produced good novels in the past, none of which have ever had this level of bad writing and cartoonish characterisation.
A lot of the mistakes are things which should have been picked up by editors or people working in Bioware, who should have pointed out things like the mass produced Tantalus Drive Core. As such a large amount of the blame for this book’s failure can be placed upon them.

Ignore this novel, pretend it doesn't exist and hope that Bioware puts more effort into Mass Effect 3’s lore than what was in here. And that we don’t end up with a level playing as Shepard fighting his way through Cerberus’ PR department on a gyrocycle.
Profile Image for Behnam Riahi.
58 reviews2 followers
March 22, 2015
The following review has been copied from http://behnamriahi.tumblr.com

Mass Effect: Deception, written by William C. Dietz and published by Del Rey, is a third-person, science-fiction novel and the fourth book in the Mass Effect series, based on the video games of the same name. After humans have fled to space, interacted with aliens, and even built an embassy in the space fortress that all species share known as the Citadel, humanity is on the hunt to mine a rare element that creates faster than light travel, known as element zero or eezo, the number one commodity in the galaxy. However, eezo is highly unstable and those that come into contact with it suffer deformities, cancer, even death. Pregnant women who have been exposed to eezo, though, have been known to produce children with varying levels of psycho-kinetic abilities—these children, born into most races, are known only as biotics. The Alliance, the galactic Earth force, runs a small civilian-military facility for biotics in a school called Grissom Academy, known as the Ascension Project. That’s where security chief, Hendel Mitra, and counselor, Kahlee Sanders, first met Gillian Grayson. However, Gillian’s adopted father was working for a secretive, human-supremacist mafia known as Cerberus. When he kidnapped Gillian, Kahlee and Hendel were forced to convince Gillian’s father, Paul Grayson, to let her go. And he did—and he disappeared, until Cerberus’s leader, the Illusive Man, found him and performed experiments on him with alien technology. As a result, Grayson died. Two years later, Gillian finds out about her father’s death and she’s out for blood—she returns to Kahlee, who lives with her boyfriend, Admiral David Anderson, before she goes out on her own again—just like Nick, another of Kahlee’s students. Both Nick and Gillian flee separately to Omega—Nick, to join a biotic-supremacist organization, and Gillian, to kill the Illusive Man. But not before he finds her first.

Wow, are we all caught up? Jesus—that’s an explanation spanning several books in the series, but sue me if you’re prematurely reading a review on this book and you mind spoilers for the previous three. Anyway, it’s the last book in the Mass Effect series, following Mass Effect: Revelation, Mass Effect: Ascension, and Mass Effect: Retribution. I cannot even believe I read them all—especially since the reviews on these books have only declined. But I loved the series, the game’s in particular—there’s nothing more to it than that. Whether it’s the comics, the animated film, or especially games themselves, I can’t seem to get enough Mass Effect in my life. I guess that’s because of Tiffany. Standing at about 5’4”, with an hourglass figure, dark brown hair, and huge, gaping brown eyes, Tiffany was what you might call the longest relationship of my life. In fact, I’ve known her longer than almost everyone I know that isn’t family. The last time we saw each other, she handed me her copy of the Mass Effect trilogy for the Playstation 3—she insisted that I would like them, and though I’d heard of the series from my brother, she wanted me to play them—to involve myself in that world. Her world. But Tiffany awoke a monster, tearing away the naive fabric of what I thought enjoyable science fiction games were. Obviously, her and I played a lot of the same games already: Assassin’s Creed, Bioshock, Final Fantasy. I never got her on Metal Gear Solid, though I’m sure she felt the same way about never getting me interested in Grand Theft Auto. In any case, we were gamer lovers who used to spend our nights reading excerpts of the Great Gatsby to each other. It was pretty good for a long time, but like this book series, some things come to an abrupt and ugly end. Young and dumb and resentful of everything that made us, we were destined for something more—until we weren’t one day. All that remained was a handful of gifts, and a copy of Mass Effect that she told me not to return. At the time, it meant more to her that I kept it and cherished it than it did for her to dive back into that series again herself. At the time, anyway.

(All dressed up with nowhere to go.)

Looking back on this book series too, one thing is clear to me: Dietz is a better writer than Karpyshyn. For the most part, considering the pulp quality of this novel, I was thoroughly impressed with Deitz’s poetic descriptions and dynamic lexicon. He frequently dropped words that I had to look up myself, as though I were reading any other literary master of days past. And the quality of his prose was well-paced—slow when it needed to be, usually in instances of conversation, and fast, heart-pounding momentum in the action scenes. The action scenes in particular are very strong, because Dietz never wastes a word, using every sentence to push the action further in some way as opposed to lingering on an object or an idea. He’s thorough when he wants to be though, giving numerous strong descriptions of his perception of Omega or the Citadel, taking every moment to paint a new cityscape for us, as though we’re continually perceiving it with fresh eyes, though without the staleness of repetitive descriptions and recycled adjectives. It’s not a surprise that Dietz has had quite a history writing this brand of science-fiction action novels. Where Karpyshyn falls most short, Dietz comes through with pretty publishable strength and I salute him for his efforts. It’s the efforts that he fell short on that force me to withdraw that salute though. After all, while the narrative reads very strongly, Dietz also has a habit of repeating information through dialogue. Very rarely does this feel organic, and it comes off as some contrivance to press already known information into the minds of the the book’s readers. However, this is not the greatest failure this book presents—and its his failures carry a far greater weight than his efforts.

There is no perfect novel, after all, and there is no perfect relationship either. Tiffany and I weren’t anymore perfect than anyone else—our origins say that much. We met on an online game, in our late teens and young adult years. We had no interest in dating each other back then, I’d wager, though we kept in touch through the years, well after we quit playing socially-oriented online games. We advised each other on relationships, school, our futures—on life. And as the years passed and Tiffany grew into the person she wanted to be while I graduated from college, I looked at the motley parade of women that I’d loved up until that point: girls like Erin who will never stop carrying a grudge against me, Donna who resents me for wanting more out of life, and Christine who just considered me part of her “artist phase.” I realized that I had been ignoring the one girl that actually could have been the one, pressing for girls that were close and convenient and provided me only a modicum of happiness in exchange for drastic adjustments to my personality. But Tiffany was different—she made me laugh. She pushed me to learn more and try harder. Sometimes, even though I never knew how much I wanted it, she let me be her hero and came to me in every tragedy. Being a kid lost in books and video games, she made me feel like I was somebody special. So Tiffany and I agreed to find each other—and without any work whatsoever, we simply fell in love. Bummer was that she was in Houston and I was in Chicago—but after a couple of years of planning and promising, I took a chance and flew down. We did all kinds of things together. It wasn’t just about the long stretch of celibacy we endured. I met her family. We traipsed around the city and fooled around whenever we found a moment to ourselves. We went shopping and had dinner out when we felt classy, or called for pizza in when we didn’t want to find our clothes. We spent hours not watching the movies that we put on on Netflix and explored each other like archaeologists on a career-building dig. We gave each other gifts, slept in each other’s arms, smoked cigarettes as we spent hours looking for a Starbucks because we just needed some coffee. It was the most fun I’d probably ever had until that point in my life. And I flew down a few times because of it—I would’ve even left Chicago, I think. I would have stayed down there if she asked. She never did though.

(Just like in the movies.)

Not quite as disappointing, but still a huge bummer, Dietz failed to make a lasting impression. While this novel is well-written, it’s some of the worst editing that I’ve ever read. I’m not sure that there was an editor at all, actually. Commas are used wrong, to say the least. Mistaken homonyms appear regularly, like the word “cue” being used in place of the word “queue” at one point. It reads like a fucking first draft, and I suppose I consider myself lucky that there weren’t more typos. But damn, I put more effort in editing a goddamn blog post. Furthermore, there were a strange number of inconsistencies in Dietz’s style. For instance, when referring to Kahlee Sanders and David Anderson, he frequently calls them “Kahlee and Anderson.” Why does he use her first name and his last name? I can’t say—it happens with a lot of characters though—Gillian Grayson is Gillian. Kai Leng is Leng. Nick Donahue is Nick. Aria T’Loak is T’loak. The author’s inability to determine whether a given name or a family name has more value creates a weird distance from the characters in the story that I’ve never experienced before. It made me feel like the characters weren��t actively participating in the story that’s taking place—rather, they’re strung forward like puppets by some whimsical narrator. Maybe that’s primarily because these characters existed before Dietz grabbed them up, but either way, he moved them with a sense of uncertainty. By the time I got to the end of the novel, I didn’t care who lived or who died—I just didn’t care about the characters that I once loved anymore. And even if characters died that I knew would live to be in the third and final video game, I couldn’t have cared less—nothing that happened that novel had any stake in my perception of the game series anymore.

So love comes and love goes. Tiffany was no different than the others in that aspect. Obviously, the story has to end somewhere—so for all intents and purposes, we can say it ended when she dumped me. We determined that we should live together—and she volunteered to move to Chicago. However, this came with some very real moments of me needing to get my shit together. Essentially, I’d been living with this other girl for some time—and though we weren’t sexual, we had once been. Her and I lived in a small studio where we had to share a sleeping space—so it’s no surprise that Tiffany got pissed about it. One day, she drew a line and I moved out—where I moved was supposed to be the home that Tiffany and I would share together. As a result of getting my own place, we determined that because I’d be on that lease for a year, she would join me in Chicago. However, I didn’t realize how deep the line she drew was embedded. She wasn’t just mad about that living situation—she was mad about my drinking too, how I took every opportunity to get drunk whenever I could back then. She was mad about how I used my money, because instead of spending on things we could share, I kept saving it for the life I thought we could live together. She was mad about how I was emotionally distant, and she didn’t take my shitty background as an excuse. So I mended—I tried to fix everything. No, I did fix everything. I lined up jobs for her, I used the money I saved to buy some solid Ikea furniture for us, I even bought a one-way ticket to Houston too, so we could drive back to Chicago together. However, when the week came, she changed her mind. You could say it’s cold feet, but I don’t think she never stopped being mad at me for not changing those things sooner. She told me to keep Mass Effect—it was a gift. Like I said, it was more important to her that I kept it. I never returned to Houston again and she never saw the home that I built for her here either. For me, it was almost too easy to go back to living the way I used to—but I changed for myself as much as I did for her. In spite of everything I lost, she left me a man that she could still be proud of. She made me better, even if she never stayed long enough to see it.

(Fly me to the moon already.)

In some ways, it’s the things that you don’t see that fuck you up the most. At least that’s how it was for Dietz. You could say his editor was sleeping on the job, because it went beyond grammatical errors and inconsistent character titles. He fucked the canon up too. I caught the first red flag when Nick and Gillian were adults, when only two years prior, they were still kids—barely old enough to make responsible decisions. Nick went from being “one of the older kids” with a hero complex to a full grown man, losing his virginity and taking his first kills. Gillian grew from an autistic girl who never learned how to show affection to a woman with… no autism? Maybe Dietz just didn’t understand how autism works, but I’m inclined to believe that you don’t just grow out of it. Other red flags came up in short time though—Hendel, who was determined gay in the previous novels, is checking out female dancers at the club, and Kai Leng, of the N7 class of Alliance soldiers, got demoted to N6 somehow and subsequently overcame his human-supremacist expectations to flirt with alien women and dine on their cuisine. Of course, it only took Aria two years to bury her daughter, like that makes any sense, but somehow all of these characters overcame their quirks without us knowing it. So upon finishing the novel, and reading from its last chapter about a time-travelling piece of jewelry that conveyed an unbelievable revelation gifted to Gillian posthumously by her father, I went out of my way to look up these canonical inconsistencies. As it turns out, Mass Effect: Deception breaks canon so much that fans have called to have it removed from the canon entirely and companies Bioware and Del Rey have promised to have fixed these canon issues in future editions. Talk about a complete fucking rewrite though. And seeing as how the book has been out for three years with no change, I’m not counting on this happening. If you’ve read this novel already, I recommend you take a look at these inconsistencies here. And if you haven’t read it? I don’t recommend reading it at all.

I platinumed the Mass Effect series and gave the copies to my brother. Seeing them there, on my shelf—it reminded me of her too much. It wasn’t easy to hide, like the lighter she had made for me featuring the Foxhound symbol from Metal Gear Solid or the Assassin’s Creed t-shirt that smelled like her still for a little while longer. I just couldn’t keep it with the rest of my games, and when my brother asked to borrow my copies, so he could play through the series again, I forfeited them to him like I forfeited everything else up until that point. In a way, I felt like I had nothing left. Her and I stopped talking too—we catch up sometimes, but it’s not the same. She knows I will always care for her, probably in a way she doesn’t want to be cared for, and I know she’ll never forgive me, or at least never look at me how she used to look at me before she gave up on me. We mostly know as a result of the last fight we got into, where she asked if she could have her copy of Mass Effect back. It bothered me, because she once insisted that I kept it, but her wanting it back—it just felt like a stab through the rib cage. We fought for a couple of days and we decided to keep our distance for good. I think she tries to be my friend, but I don’t think I can be the friend for her that I used to be. Not anymore, at least. Recently, I had a dream about her—we saw each other at the trailer release for Mass Effect 4, not that there is such a game yet. I still dream of her more than I’d like to. It’s not like she’s the only girl that affected my life though—and who knows? In no time at all I could be writing a similar review on a book that reminds me of Claire or Christine or Erin or Donna. I’ve been touched and crafted and built by so many girls, I’m not sure that the person I was before I met these people would even recognize me today. In spite of all that though, I think Tiffany touched me the most—I knew her longer than any of the others. I loved her longer than any of the others. And I would’ve gone to hell and back for her, where I was never quite ready to do that for the others. Because of that, there’s always going to be a part of me that wonders if, when I’m ready, things will change. Like how your first Mass Effect romance forgives you in Mass Effect 3. Like how Gatsby came back again for Daisy. Maybe that’s our story or maybe those are just the kinds of stories that I always liked. Emotional extremes, persistent yearning, and forgiveness. Either way, you need to something to believe in.

(Queue the Taylor Swift songs.)

I give Mass Effect: Deception credit for being better written than the other Mass Effect novels, but that’s where that credit ends. I can’t award it the same measure of stars that I awarded to the previous Mass Effect books, because like the other novels, it’s hinged on understanding the world built by both the books and the games. The only difference is that this doesn’t hold true to either. Some things never quite end the way they should.
Profile Image for Chris The Lizard from Planet X.
359 reviews7 followers
May 21, 2021
Mass Effect: Deception by Willam C. Diets is a video game tie-in novel based sci-fi RPG game from BioWare. ME: Deception, Is set some time after Mass Effect 2 but before Mass Effect 3, Mass Effect: Deception brings Gillian Grayson back into the tale as a young adult bent on revenge for the death of her father in the last novel. Returning from her exile with the Quarians, Gillian learns of her father's death at the hands of Cerberus and vows to kill the Illusive Man. Her minder and guardian who followed her into exile, Hendel, has no choice but to accompany her back into Citadel space.

Her journey takes her to the Citadel itself where she re-unites with Kahlee Sanders and meets her boyfriend and partner, Alliance War hero Admiral David Anderson, both of whom are trying to spur the Citadel Council to action against the looming Reaper threat. The joyous reunion takes a backseat when Gillian throws a temper tantrum and storms off to rashly pursue her goal, forcing the others to search for her.

Despite the fact that the novel only takes place a few years after we last saw Gillian, she's magically turned into a 18 years old Level 3 Biotic somehow. She was also a youth plagued by autism, however there's no mention of this what-so-ever completely changing the nature of her character from someone with a serious condition to just your typical hotheaded teenager.

That's a very fundamental change, but the mistakes made by Mass Effect: Deception don't stop with novel-only details. Apparently the Quarians are no longer concerned with sterlization anymore, as people can walk among their ships without any kind of decontamination or precautions. They also have a warehouse on Omega. The Batarians have a presence on the Citadel again and even let Humans on their homeworld, completely removing the strong hostility between species! Biotics are now also classified by Level, instead of their implants being recognized by that.

Lore Mess ups like this are just sloppy and show a complete disregard for everything that has come before in the franchise's long history. The thing is, I don't know if the author, William C. Dietz is to blame or if BioWare or the publisher, Del Ray, should be held accountable themselves, since they obviously had to sign off on this work.

Overall, Mass Effect: Deception is a embarrassment of inconsistency and juvenile story telling. It doesn't feel like Mass Effect and the characters and even many of the settings in the book feel completely off from those we know and love.
Profile Image for Teighlor Chaney.
18 reviews8 followers
September 22, 2023
Despite some of the previous reviews, I began this book with high hopes. I enjoyed the others and thought this one would be a climactic conclusion, with an interesting biotic character, and a chance to build more on Kai Leng, Admiral Anderson and Kahlee Sanders' characters. I was sorely disappointed.

Where should I even begin? I suppose I will start at the beginning. By the time I got to page 20, I’d already been told what each supporting character and alien species looked like in excruciating detail. A little recap is understandable but, less than an hour in it was evident that William C. Dietz was adding in these notes for filler because nothing at all interesting was happening. It read like he had just copy and pasted the reference material given to him by Bioware.

After making it through the many arduous paragraphs of race profiles and learning that the asari are blue and sexy and appear to be female – thanks for the refresher on that Dietz – I made it to the iconic place where Shepard became the first human Spectre, the council chamber.

It was here that I then learned how reasonable the asari councilor was, which was unreasonably reasonable, and emphasized by the passage;

“Even so,” the asari said reasonably, “Isn’t it more reasonable to assume that Grayson was acting on behalf of Cerberus?”

These faults I forgave, including the fact that Earth’s human councilor went unnamed any time he appeared in the book. Even though, without Anderson as an option, that’d leave only Udina. I suppose the struggle of writing personalities for all these established characters was just too much for Dietz. By not giving the human councilor a name Dietz only furthered my assumptions on his lack of research. Then he drove that nail into the coffin when the Asari councilor said, “My God.” Any fan will tell you that not only are these mono-gendered aliens basically female, but they also say “goddess” anytime something remotely surprising happens. I mean the phrase “asari female” appears in the book more than once, so maybe the author thought there were males tucked away somewhere. It’s a small thing, but it was enough to make me consider giving up on the book altogether.

These minute details told me that not only had Dietz used the species and character notes given to him by Bioware as filler to bulk up the pages; he didn’t even do his homework on the series as a whole. Something like that is unforgivable when you’re a notable author writing book #4 for a popular game series. I honestly don’t know who to blame more, Dietz, EA, Bioware, or Del Rey Books? Honestly, I’d hand that prize to all of them because these are mistakes that reflect poorly on each of them and should not have been overlooked.

Still, I persevered.

What I met me with was a barrage of perspective skipping and lazy writing that read more like a rough draft rather than a final copy. If I could give this a positive spin, I’d say that Dietz's lack of detail moved the story along quickly. It was also relatively easy to follow, or rather too simplistic to be confusing.

Dietz shows his laziness (or his personal preferences in women) by describing every single “attractive” woman as having a high, broad, or long forehead, and wide set eyes. Which is hilarious, since throughout the novel the krogan are described as having wide-set eyes. Perhaps that was an oversight? He oversights a lot, but since this whole story was an oversight I’m not surprised.

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To sum it up, there is no characterization and no story, which goes against everything the writers of Mass Effect built. Do yourself a favor and just skip it altogether and pick up one of the comics or another sci-fi series.

Profile Image for Richard.
204 reviews14 followers
February 6, 2012
In full disclosure I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway, also I am not familiar with the Mass Effect series.

The language used in the book is extremely weak and too simplistic. The grammar is terrible and full of mistakes, for example the word "and" is regularly used to start a sentence or even a paragraph, but this is just one example out of many sloppy mistakes. Paragraphs seem to end randomly and it almost feels the author threw punctuation at a page and put the commas and fullstops in wherever they happened to land.

Often story points are repeated, for example in a battle near the start of the book two aliens are killed in almost identical ways. Many exact same phrases are repeated throughout the book and is just more examples of weak and unimaginative writing.

Due to the weak writing the story is detached and sometimes hard to follow.

The descriptions throughout the book range from weak to okay, but they are usually pretty flat and boring, similar to a text book description rather than an interesting story. There is a slight overuse of 'technobabble' usually when describing weapons, to the point where it hurts the story.

All the characters are flat, boring and lacking in any personality. They all act inconsistently and in a way that serves to continue the story or try to make it more interesting rather than in a realistic way. The so called 'good' characters often act irrationally, violently in unnecessary situations and seem to have little concern for their friends. At times characters can act almost psychically in correctly guessing what other people are thinking or doing based on little information. Other times they can act incredibly stupidly and walk into a clear trap, again all this seems to be in an attempt to make story and the expense of characters.

The characters are constantly asking themselves questions about the situation they are in, sometimes never answering the question or not caring what the answer is. This in boring, annoying and almost feels like the author was just trying to get the word count up.

This may be because of the computer game origins, but the action sequences are unrealistic, with main characters walking through battles with little to no injuries while all around them people are being killed but somehow always missing out on killing or seriously harming the main cast. Additionally security is way too easily overcome throughout the book.

One of the few good things was that the author did a fairly good job of describing events that happened outside of this novel, so I never felt lost because of not having read the previous books in the series.

Overall I would say what could have been a fairly good story was ruined by very weak writing, terrible characters, massive inconsistencies within the novel and unbelievable action sequences. I am amazed that a major publisher and video game maker allowed this book to be released.

Profile Image for Wendy White.
Author 8 books22 followers
March 29, 2012
First ME book not written by D.K. So, Dietz had that disadvantage going in. Sadly, this book really does not compare favourably with the first three.

Criticisms about this book's gaping plot holes and inconsistent characterisation certainly weren't unfounded. Deception breaks the timeline established by the previous novels, and there's a number of other significant errors which others have already noted in their reviews.

Kahlee and Anderson were particularly out of synch with their established characters. And the less said about Hendel...

And there was one paragraph that was recycled verbatim from a few chapters earlier, which... was either an attempt at Indoctrination through repetition or a copy-paste error. I'm leaning towards the latter :P

That said, the over-arching plot was fine. I did go into this knowing there were errors but hoping to just get a tiny bit more ME given I've finished the games and all other ME media. Unlike other reviewers I don't regret reading it, especially seeing it only took a day to finish. It's just clearly not written by someone involved in the ME universe, and it clearly wasn't edited by someone who was, either.

It does seem like BW (or EA) is doing their best to just crank these things out as quickly as possible for maximum cash-in value, without engaging in the quality control and peer review the actual games were subject to for the most part.

Also, I understand the need to not impact on ME3's 'canon' (although I hear BW has been quoted as saying there is no 'canon' Shepard) it seemed a bit of a waste to kill some of the characters they did. It would have been interesting to see what those characters would have gotten up to during the events of ME3... ah well.
Profile Image for Nikolai.
48 reviews4 followers
February 27, 2013
I wish I could give this book (if you can call it that) no stars, because I'm furious I even wasted my time reading this deplorable thing- luckily, I am able to check books out from the store I work at, or I never would have willingly paid for it.

I'm assuming Dietz has never so much as glanced at any Mass Effect lore outside of the manuals that come with the game, considering how "liberal" he was with canon lore. (Artistic liberty is only something Hudson can claim, Dietz, and this was BEFORE ME3, so you have no excuse other than you were lazy.)

So many discrepancies, turning good characters into walking sets of bad tropes, making them the butt of fandom jokes(seriously, I loved Kai Leng's character in Retribution, but Deception turned him into the fandom's biggest joke.), not to mention the disgusting generalisations and changes of character traits that lead me to believe Dietz was unqualified and uncomfortable (ergo, again, unqualified) with writing.

I could go over the lore that's wrong, but I would simply be repeating other reviews before me, but I have to reiterate:

There is something wrong with making a homosexual character suddenly ogling asari.

There is EVERYTHING wrong with a girl "growing out of" autism.

That's poor writing, and Dietz should be ashamed of his homophobia and albeism.

The only good thing I got out of this trash was a few laughs and an amusing hashtag for my twitter followers to track as I live tweeted the reading of this failed catastrophe passed off as a book.
Profile Image for Michael.
1,042 reviews39 followers
October 20, 2017
This is the 4th book in the Mass Effect series. The first three books were by Drew Karpyshyn. This one is by William C. Dietz. Mr. Dietz has done an excellent job of continuing the story started in the first three books. This book is based on the game by BioWare. I don't play video games so I don't know how it compares to the game but it is a good read in the Space Opera genre. In this one Kahlee Sanders and Admiral David Anderson are searching for Gillian Grayson who is in turn trying to find and kill the Illusive Man, who is trying to find a way to fight the Reapers.. Their search will take them from the Citadel to the outlaw space station known as Omega. This book is action packed and a great addition to this series and I recommend it.
Profile Image for Courtney.
42 reviews2 followers
February 28, 2016
Well what can one say about this book? I mean it was interesting enough and if you know nothing about Mass Effect you'd probably actually enjoy this one.
Biggest complaints you'll get from me was the structure in which it was written. It bounced around too much leaving me utterly confused. Secondly the lore is so way off base that it makes you want to scream.
I'm usually easily pleased with books and even though certain aspects bothered me overall the story was alright. It was not the worst book I've read all things considered.
Profile Image for David.
1 review1 follower
April 13, 2012
Definitely not as good as the other three books and its obvious that the new writer had no prior knowledge of the Mass Effect universe or its characters (apart from maybe a bare bones cheat sheet provided by Bioware) as shown by the abundance mistakes and errors. However saying that, the general plot is solid (basic but solid) and with the planned re-release with fixed errors it would match up with the other books in the series.
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