Series: Spook Squad #1
Published by Dell on 2014-08-26
Genres: Paranormal mystery, Urban Fantasy
Source: the publisher
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Also in this series: Generation 18, Penumbra
Also by this author: Generation 18, Penumbra
For Sam Ryan, life began at age fourteen. She has no memory of her parents or her childhood. In a decade of service with the State Police, Sam has exhausted the resources of the force searching for clues to her identity. But all mention of her family seems to have been deliberately wiped off the record. Everything changes the night Sam’s missing partner resurfaces as a vampire... and forces her to kill him in self-defense. Now Sam is charged with murder. Suspended from the force, and with no one left to trust, Sam accepts some unexpected help from Gabriel Stern, a shapeshifter who conceals startling secrets.
While investigating the circumstances surrounding her partner’s strange behavior, Sam discovers that Garbriel’s been involved with a dangerous organization that’s planning a war on the human race. More immediate, someone is guarding the truth about Sam’s past—someone who’d rather see her dead than risk her knowing too much. To stay alive, Sam must unravel the threads of her past—and find out not only who she is but what she is.
Wow! Memory Zero is a tightly-plotted, fast-paced, suspenseful urban fantasy. I could hardly put it down, and I wanted to scream when my Kindle ran out of battery in the middle. Unlike some urban fantasy, Memory Zero is not a romance, though there are a few hints that one might develop between the two main characters in a later book. Normally I prefer romantic suspense to sheer suspense, but in this case, Arthur’s writing and characterization were good enough that it didn’t matter; I devoured the book anyway.
The character of Sam(antha) Ryan works really well for me. She’s loyal but pragmatic, she’s a survivor, she’s tough, she’s fiercely determined, and she trusts her instincts without ignoring her intellect. She also doesn’t trust easily, which I think will continue to be an issue for her and Gabriel as they work together – but then, Gabriel doesn’t trust easily, either. Like Sam, Gabriel hides a lot of secrets, but while Sam’s secrets are mysteries, Gabriel knows at least some of the answers to his. His concern for his brother humanizes him and makes him more sympathetic, as does his determination to protect Sam. Sam’s lack of a past, and her fierce desire to know more about herself (and have a family) give her a vulnerability which she hides from others.
The worldbuilding is quite good. Arthur sets the book in Melbourne, Australia, only a little while in our future – but it’s a world where shapeshifters, shapechangers, and vampires exist, and possibly other nonhumans as well. A world where some members of those other species/races want to rule, and others just want to be treated fairly and equally. Arthur blends technology and the paranormal in just the right amounts to be both believable and interesting.
One of the things that really contributes to the suspense is that you can’t always be sure who is human and who is not, nor whose side anyone is on — including those that Sam or Gabriel have trusted in the past. And with shapeshifters and clones in the picture, the very identity of some of the players becomes suspect.
As I said, I plowed through Memory Zero as quickly as I could, and luckily, there’s not a long wait for the next installment. The trilogy is coming out over the course of three months: Aug 26, Sept. 30, and Oct. 28. That’s great news, because I’m really eager to know what happens next!
Note: The Spook Squad trilogy was published in 2004 and 2009 by ImaJinn Books, and is being reprinted with new covers by Dell.
Spook Squad series:
1. Memory Zero (this review)
2. Generation 18 (coming 9/30/14)
3. Penumbra (coming 10/28/14)
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
- COYER Summer Vacation 2014