In this sci-fi debut, an amnesiac 24th-century woman hones her powers to battle menacing creatures in a ravaged Utah.
Lia awakens in an abandoned store, remembering nothing beyond her first name, including how she got there. She has apparent surgical scars all over her body and signs of restraints on her wrists and ankles. Outside the store is a 7-foot-tall clawed beast that pursues her. After a lengthy chase, Lia discovers a bladed device called a kynari that, unlike bullets, can penetrate the creature’s armored skin. But after their bloody confrontation has seemingly ended, the fierce predator uses its tendrils to somehow bond with an unwitting Lia. She later realizes that, armed with the kynari, she’s quite powerful, but at a price: The beast, which she dubs the Leader, is a voice in her head that occasionally takes over her body. Similar lanky creatures have devastated Utah, which Lia ultimately attributes to a virus that someone created at a biotech lab in the state. She eventually comes across potential allies in a small group of soldiers, who have witnessed the beasts infecting humans that manage to survive attacks. Lia and the others try to save humanity by finding a cure. Ramsay’s series opener shares more than a passing resemblance to the Resident Evil video game/movie series, particularly the films. But while readers may have seen similar monsters and desolate landscapes before, the author loads his tale with exhilarating action. The story’s momentum likewise offsets the violence, as Ramsay doesn’t linger on visceral imagery like severed appendages. Pithy writing aids in delivering a visual narrative: “Due to the angle of her attack she could only rupture its lower jaw cleanly, so she deftly removed it then slammed it hard into its skull.” Lia’s mysterious backstory is resolved by the end, but it’s part of an unexpected plot turn. The twist answers questions in this book while starting an entirely new direction for the sequel.
A familiar but entertaining, action-laden monster tale.