AUTHOR: Ferrett Steinmetz
SERIES: 'Mancer (#1)
PUBLISHER: Angry Robot
GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Sci Fi, Adult
RATING: 3/5 Stars
FLEX: Distilled magic in crystal form. The most dangerous drug in the world. Snort it, and you can create incredible coincidences to live the life of your dreams.
FLUX: The backlash from snorting Flex. The universe hates magic and tries to rebalance the odds; maybe you survive the horrendous accidents the Flex inflicts, maybe you don’t.
PAUL TSABO: The obsessed bureaucromancer who’s turned paperwork into a magical Beast that can rewrite rental agreements, conjure rented cars from nowhere, track down anyone who’s ever filled out a form. But when all of his formulaic magic can’t save his burned daughter, Paul must enter the dangerous world of Flex dealers to heal her. Except he’s never done this before – and the punishment for brewing Flex is army conscription and a total brain-wipe.
What I Liked:
- The plot idea is really very creative and original. The idea that our passions/loves/hobbies could be tuned into a form of magic is an intriguing one and when I read the synopsis for this book I loved it! Drugs that let you be magic for a while? Brilliant! Consequences for those actions! Even better! Having finished it, I will stand by the fact that I haven't read a plot idea like this before. Some of the ways that magic was used in this book (Paul's bureaucromancy, Valentine's videogamemancy, etc.) were really fun to read about.
- Valentine's character I did like a lot. When she showed up in the book, I felt a lot better about it for a while. She was witty, down to earth and feisty, which I like in a heroine and even more in a sidekick. I guess that's mostly the gamer in me talking, you don't find a whole lot of them in books but Valentine was probably this book's saving grace when it came to the characters.
What I Disliked:
- I'm afraid I didn't have a whole lot of love for the main hero, Paul. He was clever (which was good) but his constant self-pity wore thin on me after a while. The fact that he couldn't go a page without thinking about how he was a bad Father/person, how lonely and isolated he felt, or how his ex-wife (who I didn't like one little bit) was probably right about him. Whiny heroes are not my thing and Paul was the epitome of self-deprecation. The character's he interacted with (except Valentine) were pretty one-dimensional too. Anathema, our villain, only had a portion of back-story thrown in at the end. Kit and Lenny were basically the same person. Imani, the aforementioned awful ex-wife, only showed up to feed Paul's self-loathing. Where was the development?
- I'm afraid that for me, the world-building could have been better. There wasn't a whole lot of historical context when it came to the Mancers, only a couple of mentions regarding past actions. Even more disappointing, the rules of Mancy were very unclear. At first, they seemed to defined well, but as the plot went on I felt like they were changed to suit what the plot needed at that moment. Feats that I considered huge didn't seem to have any of the Flux blow-backs I was promised, and vice versa. Paul in particular seemed to be the exception to the rule in most Mancy cases and it only served to confuse me.
- The plot itself had me quite lost. I remember complaining about a similar scenario in Libba Bray's 'Going Bovine'. There was just too much craziness for me to handle. The story moved at such an alarming rate, with some really strange things happening and I felt like I was in some kind of drug induced hallucination while reading. Everything was made way more complicated than it needed to be too, so when friends asked me to explain what the book was about or what was happening I couldn't find the words to do so.
I'm afraid this book was a little disappointing. I adored the ideas behind it and the vision that I think the author had in mind which is why I bumped the rating a little. But when it came to the execution, it just didn't quite work for me. Most of the characters fell flat, save Valentine who was pretty cool, and the world-building contradicted itself on a whole lot of levels. In the end, I spent most of the time confused about what was happening and it took me a long time to get through this book.