Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Generation 18 by Keri Arthur

The Basics:
Generation 18 by Keri Arthur
Book Two in the Spook Squad series
Urban Fantasy
Re-Published September 30, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Amazon.ca Kobo.com

Why I picked up this book:

I needed to know what happened next!


My thoughts:

Generation 18 is the second book in Arthur's Spook Squad trilogy. We all know how second books tend to suffer - these are the filler books, the books that link us from the dynamic, fresh, fascinating new start to the explosive, climactic, awesome, fulfilling ending. At least, that's one theory. Sometimes series start off slow and build, other times we're let down completely by the final book.... Okay, back on point!  Generation 18 is book two, and I had some expectations for it that were met and others that were not.

First, the big bad - Sethanon - who seems to be Public Enemy Number One in the first book (Memory Zero - review here) is barely mentioned in this book. That was a big negative for me because it made me feel like what happened in this book wasn't as significant in the overall picture of the Spook Squad story. I was also surprised that what happened in this book wasn't blamed in some way on Sethanon. He seemed like the go-to suspect.

Regardless, there was a lot that had me glued to the page. I found the story compelling despite the lack of big bad lurking from the previous book, and there are strong connections to books one and three in this one, so it's definitely not an independent episode that doesn't relate!

Primarily, I really felt for Sam and her situation. After the events of Memory Zero, she's basically flying solo here. Her former partner isn't in the picture anymore, and she doesn't really have... well... friends. I'm actually a little baffled as to how she managed to be so isolated. Jack, her former partner, wasn't able to spend time outside of work with her due to a very jealous wife, so I would have thought Sam would have just naturally formed a few connections beyond her partner, particularly having spent ten years in the same place?  But no, she has no one to trust, to confide in, to rant, or turn to when Gabriel's being a bastard. Her loneliness is tangible. And I felt that where Gabriel can turn to his family for advice, Sam is just flailing about. This especially evident when it comes to whatever connection exists between the two of them.

I also started squicking out over the tests - not that we hear about a lot of them, but the number of tests that Sam's got to endure really started to get to me. It all felt very invasive - but I guess this ties into the lack of privacy I noted about the first book (when you have empaths and telepaths running around... privacy must be limited).

And, oh yes, Gabriel is a bastard in this one. He's determined to push Sam away, convinced that having had two partners die means his third partner is doomed as well. He treats Sam so callously that if we didn't have his perspective to in some small way justify some of it, I would have written this guy off entirely. Kudos to Sam for not rolling over despite all the crap he slings at her.

There were some things that seemed... maybe a little unbalanced to me? It seems like security efforts are nearly pointless - I'd like a character or two who can't circumvent locks/cameras/etc. whether because they lack the power or device or whatever. I also found that surprise connections were really plentiful - perhaps more so than was necessary. There's a death mid-way that really should have had a stronger impact by the end of the story, I thought. There was kind of a pause for it and then I felt like we just jogged on past it.

Bottom line:

Generation 18 isn't perfect but it is *a lot of fun* to read. I needed to know what was going to happen next, and I found myself reaching for the last book in the trilogy roughly two minutes after I set this book down. I think that it does a solid job of moving the overall story forward, as well as advancing the characters and their development. Strongly recommend.

4.5 stars
For fans of urban fantasy

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