Friday, August 29, 2014

Memory Zero by Keri Arthur

The Basics:
Memory Zero by Keri Arthur
Book One in the Spook Squad series
Urban Fantasy
Originally Published April 2, 2009
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

I love urban fantasy. I need more of it in my life, particularly with good romantic subplots (or even romance with good urban fantasy subplots).


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 Gabrriel’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.

My thoughts:

Memory Zero is a fantastic start to an urban fantasy trilogy. It feels like I haven't read UF of this kind in a long time, and I loved every page.

I really enjoyed this vision of the world - with supernatural creatures of a few different types out and about in a kind of nonchalant way. I also liked that it was set in Australia - I haven't read much UF set in Australia!

Character-wise, we follow Sam and Gabriel, but there's a host of intriguing characters around them. Sam is delightfully kick-ass, and I was very glad to see her holding her own throughout the book. I liked that while it's clear she's not exactly what she thought she was (plain Jane human), she also wasn't developing new skills left and right to save herself!  Hopefully we'll find out what the deal is with Sam and what the limits are on her powers in the next book! The amnesia thing felt a little familiar - I'm going to cheat here and say that the reasons around this weren't what I thought they were, and I think the series handles it very cleverly.

Now, Gabriel is a pretty powerful guy in terms of both his role in the special investigations bureau (spook squad) and his own skill set. There's some chemistry between him and Sam, and I want to see this explored in more depth. This feels like a slow build, but hopefully we'll get some pay off in the next book! I think it as very smart to give us his perspective because, ignoring that this allows us to follow the investigation without having Sam and Gabriel tied to each other, but because it gives us important insight into his behaviour.

The supporting characters are colorful. Gabriel's family is vast and not all loveable people. I want to spend more time with them, getting to know more of them, and how the Federation relates to them.

Otherwise, I loved the depth of distrust in this book. Everyone's playing their cards so close to their vests, and it seems like it's smart to suspect everyone of playing for the wrong side.

I was completely hooked by the mystery of this book. I want to know more about Sam's past, and to see how she'll deal with the 'spook squad'.

After putting this book down, I immediately started reading the second in the trilogy (even though it's not scheduled to be reviewed until late September!) - I could not wait to find out what happened next.

I would definitely re-read this one - I know there were details that I missed or didn't attribute enough significance to the first time I read through this.

Bottom line:

Why had I never read Keri Arthur before? This is the exact kind of urban fantasy that I love - kick-ass main characters, dire threats, a world that's mostly familiar with some preternatural twists, and enough sexual tension/romantic subplot to have me crossing my fingers for an ultimately happy ending for the couple.  Grab this one if you're into urban fantasy / action stories.

5 stars
For fans of urban fantasy.

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