Memoria – by Kristyn Merbeth (Review)

Nova Vita Protocol #2

Scifi, Space Opera

Orbit; December 8, 2020

419 pages (paperback)

GoodreadsAuthor Website

4.3 / 5 ✪

While I usually try to avoid language in my reviews, look out for that here. But if excessive language is a deal-breaker for you, you probably shouldn’t read Memoria anyway;)

Please beware spoilers for the previous Nova Vita Protocol novel, Fortuna. If you haven’t read it, maybe browse my review of it HERE before starting your adventure!

After the Kaiser family helped avoid a catastrophic multi-world war that their mother helped orchestrate in the first place, they crash land on Nibiru where they are welcomed as heroes, and granted asylum. With no ship, and no way off-world, the Kaisers decide to stay, at least for a little while. Nibiru—a water planet composed of a few small archipelagos—represents an opportunity, though no two siblings seem to agree on just what that opportunity is.

Scorpia will do anything to fly again. A former criminal that just can’t bring herself to go straight, she longs for space even more than for Shey, the long-haired political exile she fell for years prior. But while neither of these seems that likely at first, it seems both may be in the cards, should she play them right.

Corvus cares little for his sister’s plans. Working as a fisherman, he attempts to leave his violent past behind all the while haunted by the nightmares from his time on Titan. The quiet, lonely days on the ocean help drown out the voices, but he remains skeptical that they will ever really fade.

When fate conspires to fling them back into space—on a mission from the Nibiru Council to explore some anomalies on the recently evacuated Gaia—the family’s opinions are divided. But when they stumble upon the truth of the destruction of Titan and Gaia, one question eclipses all others. Do they trust Nibiru’s Council with this information, or is it just something that they take to their graves?

The entire system of Nova Vita hinges on their decision.

The dueling 1st person POVs from Fortuna return in Book #2, with alternating chapters from Scorpia and Corvus. While it’s something that worked after a fashion in Book #1, Kristyn Merbeth admitted that it was something she did on the advice of her editor after the story was completed. Here in Memoria it fits together and flows much better, though if it’s the kinda thing that bothers you you still might notice some issues with it. But while I had issues differentiating the two POVs in the first installment, the siblings’ personalities and approaches are so much different in this sequel that it’s hard to confuse them; Scorpia remains hot-headed and impulsive, while Corvus is much more thoughtful and stoic.

The love-triangle isn’t very believable, particularly after the way things pan out in the first book, you can start to see something similar coming in the second. Still, it creates a believable tension that actually affects the plot in interesting ways, even after the romance is resolved.

I say “romance”, but Memoria isn’t anything approaching a romantic book. Yeah, there is some romance in it, even hints at something more in future installments, but it always plays second fiddle to the story itself. Speaking of the relationships between characters, it’s very interesting how they play out and alter the way the story wends. The love-triangle—again, if you’d call it that—has very obvious connotations for the later stages of the book, even the future of the series itself. But it’s more the subtle, non-romantic relationships that dominate the text. The familial bond between the Kaisers is one of the selling points in Fortuna, and continues throughout its sequel, with very realistic bonds being tested, explored, and strained. The Kaisers are far from the perfect family; they fight a lot—often physically, sometimes violently—but always move past it when one of their own is threatened. They have drastically different notions of what is best for the family, something that they usually don’t discuss but often work towards independently, often in direct opposition to their siblings desires. It was very interesting to see how each member is still dealing with their mother’s betrayal, and how it affects their interfamilial relationships here in Memoria.

While I was admittedly on the fence about the plot of Memoria, I have to admit it works quite well, despite a few stumbles approaching the end. There are some obvious holes in the plot—mostly after the 3/4 mark—story devices that were a bit glaring to my eye, but none of them are particularly relevant in the end. But while it took me a little to get into the story, I got quite invested before the halfway mark, to the point that these devices (an alarm that should’ve been triggered much earlier coming late and at a very opportune time, reasoning that really didn’t hold up to any kind of scrutiny) really didn’t bother me too much. At the end of it all, I was enjoying the tale too much to care.

“These political fuckers are up to some political fuckery.”

There’s definitely some “political fuckery” in Memoria. I don’t really remember this coming up at all in Fortuna. While the Book #1’s style was a lot more in-your-face, Memoria seems to have gone for a more subtle approach; more politicking, dropped hints and clues that I caught only when reading them for the second time. It’s an interesting transition that actually works quite well since the overall content doesn’t change that much, just how it’s relayed does. There’s still a heavy does of action, tension and a thorough focus on character interaction, especially the familial bonds.

TL;DR

An overall improvement on its predecessor, Memoria is a very different adventure from the science fiction thriller that came before, instead focusing on character interactions, familial relationships, and political fuckery. While there’s still more than enough action and excitement and thrill to go around, it sets a much more subtle, tense tone than Fortuna. Possessed of a much slower build than the original, Memoria took some getting used to, took me longer to buy in to the story. But once I did, wow was it good! The plot and setting and interactions sucked me in so much that not even the few missteps towards the end could slow it. I’d definitely recommend this one, and look forward to the conclusion of the Nova Vita Protocol—Discordia—coming next week, December 7th, 2021!

Note: I picked up Memoria used in paperback after failing to find it at my local library. Paid $7 (including shipping) and save $3 on the ebook edition, plus whatever credit I’ll get following it’s return to the used book exchange (unless I just donate it to the library—or keep it myself).

4 Beautiful Scifi Trilogies – The Beautiful World of Books

This week, in honor of Scifi Month 2021, I present you covers from not one but FOUR Scifi trilogies, each of them visually stunning both inside and out. Well, probably. I’ve finished three of these, but not yet made it through Kristyn Merbeth’s Nova Vita Protocol. So let’s start there.

Nova Vita Protocol – by Kristyn Merbeth

Fortuna • Memoria • Discordia

I absolutely ADORE these covers! Though I am a little disappointed that they have a waxy feel to them, instead of the sleek, glossy texture that I would’ve thought. I think this would have been the better option—a smooth cover, possibly with some foil, to highlight the vibrant neon colors. Orbit did these up, courtesy of designer Lisa Marie Pompilio, and an illustration that claims it was from a bulk site. If anyone knows who arted this, let me know, please!

The Silence – by D. Nolan Clark

Forsaken Skies • Forgotten Worlds • Forbidden Suns

At first a well rendered galaxy with seemingly an infinite amount of space, the beauty that is the Silence soon devolves into a dark crusade that spans both time and space. The covers of this series are equally beautiful, even more so when you get into the books themselves. When everything around you screams of haunting loneliness on a truly vast scale, maybe you’ll understand what the author was going for. I mean, while they are quite nice, they have relatively little to do with the actual books. Another Orbit Books trilogy; this combines the designs of Lauren Panepinto and the illustration of Victor Mosquera.

Legends of the Duskwalker – by Jay Posey

Three • Morningside Fall • Dawnbreaker

While the Legends of the Duskwalker didn’t exactly start everything for Jay Posey, this is the trilogy which conveyed the screenwriter from writing narratives for such video game series as Rainbow Six to his own published words. This is certainly not the first nor last you’ll hear of it from me, as his science fiction thriller Three remains one of my favorite leads—not to mention series starters—of all time. Additionally, this was the first series that introduced me to Angry Robot, who published these. Steven Meyer-Rassow provides the cover art for these, in a style that I absolutely love (though it seems he’s recently taken his craft in another direction, you should still check out his work).

Keiko – by Mike Brooks

Dark Run • Dark Sky • Dark Deeds

Before Mike Brooks made the jump to epic fantasy and the Black Library, the Keiko was the series that put him on the map (well, I guess that and maybe punk). A trilogy that doesn’t read like a trilogy, act like a trilogy, or end like a trilogy—the Keiko introduces us to a ragtag crew that toe the line between family and associates. Brought to life by the scifi artist John Harris and published by Saga Press, this may be the final trilogy I included in this week’s Beautiful World of Books post, but it won’t be the last science fiction you’ll see for the month!

Have you read any of these? Which covers are your favorites? Anything else that strikes your eye? Let me know!