I have been looking high and low for a new UF series that fits my need for dark and gritty. It’s hard to find since I feel like I’ve read most of the good ones. I’ve read a few novels by Keri Arthur before and loved them. However, I couldn’t pick up her Riley Jensen series just due to the sheer number of books already released. I was extremely excited to find Memory Zero, which is the first book in her Spook Squad trilogy and boy did she take us on a ride!
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.
I admit, I had a really hard time getting into Memory Zero. I was well past the first three chapters, which is all I usually give any book anymore, and I was not connecting with the characters or the story…yet. BUT, I realized why this was happening and is my one big downfall of the book–info dumping about the world and characters was occurring. I realize this is the first novel and there is a LOT of worldbuilding to be done. But, really, my major complaint is I do not need 3-4 pages of descriptions or whiney characters and I felt that the first 1/3 of Memory Zero did just this. Having read some of Arthur’s other works, I believe she could have done a bit better weaving in information and not spending so much time info dumping.
Once I got past the initial 1/3 of Memory Zero, action started to take over and I was hooked. I am especially intrigued, just as much as everyone but seemingly Sam herself, as to what Sam really is. It becomes very clear that she is NOT human, but no one can figure out her genetics. Sam doesn’t remember her past and part of her wants to know and a bigger part doesn’t. A lot of the action revolves around Sam herself and she constantly finds herself in some sort of mortal danger. Whatever she is, she’s vital to some outcome and at least 1 side isn’t too keen on her being around to assist.
I liked Sam a lot. She was strong, for the most part. Her weak moments generally came when she’d been put through hell and back and was lamenting on not having anyone she could really trust or who was really a friend in her mind. Can’t say I blame her, there. She doesn’t take crap from anyone and while she generally follows rules, she knows when there is a time to throw that side out the window and do what is right/best. She can also give as good as she gets, as her “guardian” Gabriel finds out very quickly.
Gabriel is a great leading man. He’s strong, self-assured without being an ass about it and is there for Sam when she’s in trouble. His downfall? His own inability to trust and to acknowledge that he and Sam work well together–at least for a bit, then it becomes this whole “I don’t need a partner, I’m badass on my own” thing as some trumped up way to protect Sam. Personally, I want to smack characters over the head with something very, very hard, when they do this crap. It gets annoying after a while.
All in all, I ended up really enjoying Memory Zero and as super glad I had the next novel, Generation 18 in hand, as I simply had to know what happens next. I felt a book hangover coming on, which is the sign of a truly great book. I highly recommend Memory Zero to any UF fan.