flex
Author:Ferret Steinmetz
Category: Urban Fantasy
Pages: 429
This is definitely a new favorite. The magic was amazing, the characters were complex, it was just wonderful.

Flex takes place in a world where magic is known. And hated. Overuse and abuse caused most of Europe to be blown away so now everyone alive fears magic and those who use it. Each person’s magic is based on their own obsession. Not a “I really like this” kind of obsession, a borderline-clinical problem kind of obsession. Pretty much anyone that has magic also is almost guaranteed to have some sort of mental problems as well. Each “’mancer’s” obsession is so deep that it alters reality to match what the ‘mancer thinks it should be like or imagines it to be. However, every time that magic is used, the user builds up Flux, which is basically extraordinary bad luck. Every time they use their ‘mancy to alter the world at all, something of an equal but negative nature must occur as well to balance it.

There are some obvious types of obessions/’mancy, like art and video games, but our main character, Paul Tsabo, has an absolutely fascinating obsession: paperwork. I loved hearing him talk about his love of paperwork and bureaucracy because it was so different but it was presented in a way that makes total sense. Paperwork is a byproduct of laws and civilization. An evidence form filled out incorrectly by police can be the differencd in a guilty criminal sitting in jail or getting to walk. Improperly filled out insurance forms can lead to the insurance company not paying out like they should. He has access to all records at all times, can alter or fake any paperwork. I was always eager to see how he would use this to get out of sticky situations.

There was something that bugged me about the story a little as I was reading it. Valentine’s characters felt a little contrived at times, a little underdeveloped. What I mean by this is, Valentine basically meets Paul, a complete stranger, and is pretty much instantly neck deep in a fight that never was hers. This bothered me for a bit. Then I remembered her second time meeting Paul:

”Crap, I’ve been waiting all my life for some mysterious stranger to show up and involve me in an Adventure. What’d I get? Minimum wage jobs. Community college. Zero bearded guys showing up telling me I’m a wizard now, zero droids arriving asking me to rescue hot princes.”

She is a videogamemancer. It makes perfect sense that she anxiously awaits her chance to be part a of a real life adventure.

Having 2 different bad guys, Gunza and Anathema, was weird but it seemed like one of them was a stepping stone to more goodies down the way. Anathema was a pretty typical bad guy. ‘I hate everything, gonna destroy the world’ kind of thing.

How her ‘mancy worked was still kind of unclear to me by the end of the book but everything else about the story was so thought out that I am okay with not knowing for now. I think things will be cleared up in the future.

Who should read this book? Anyone that enjoys fantasy and a fantastically original magic system should give this book a shot.

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