The Flux by Ferrett Steinmetz

I recently read and reviewed The Flux by Ferrett Steinmetz over at The Speculative Herald (below is a condensed version).  My review of Flex is here).  Basically: I love both these books and can’t wait for No.3.

Be aware that, whilst I try to avoid spoilers, this review may contain spoilers for Flex so if you haven’t yet started this series probably best to stop reading now!

The Flux starts a short while after the conclusion of Flex. Aliyah is now 8 years old and her mancy powers make her something of a handful to manage. Her parents have divorced and Paul, following his heroics at the conclusion of Flex, heads up the task force who track mancers. Of course, being a mancer, and not wishing to be caught (or brainwashed) he uses every trick in the book to fail. His lack of success is starting to attract attention!

As the book begins we have Paul and Valentine cooking up a batch of flex (a powerful drug that is created using magic).  Unfortunately, following a tip off from the mysterious King of New York, the task force have honed in on their location and are about to try and apprehend the pair. And that’s when the magic really kicks off.

I went into this story with raised expectations and wondered if the author could sustain the level of enthusiasm I felt for Flex. I’m pleased to say he managed to do just that.  In a rather cunning ploy FS brings not only all sorts of game references and characters into play but also creates something of a film geek fest and in fact uses the love of films to create a different sort of mancy. I love the concept here and think FS has given himself massive scope to create all sorts of different magical abilities and super obsessed evil baddies.

The characters. Firstly Paul, his magic seems tame compared with most of the others but it’s actually subtly ingenious. Perhaps not the explosion of fireworks that Aliyah creates or the fun game worlds that Valentine pulls out of the hat but in a world where most people leave a paper trail, bureaucromacy is very effective. Valentine is an amazing character. She’s so full of passion for what she does and who she is that she’s a force of nature waiting to happen. She loves Paul and Aliyah and is protective of their small unit.  On top of that she’s about to gain a love interest.  Then of course we have the maniacs of the piece. One of them very obvious and one of them not as immediately apparent.

I don’t really have any criticisms. You could say that after the dramatic and horror filled start of Flex, The Flux has something of a tamer start but I think it’s appropriate and allows you to stop and gain a feel for the characters. That isn’t to say the action is in short supply but the author takes the time to show you how Aliyah feels and how she’s dealing with the traumas she’s already suffered. Paul also suffers unimaginable guilt and will go to great lengths to secure his daughter’s happiness (almost forgetting to be a parent in the process). Valentine is also desperate to retain the friendship and closeness she values but needs something more in her life. They all have things to lose and for a while these fears drive a wedge between them.

In a nutshell –  this is a great story. It expands on the possibilities created in Flex, has a great plot, excellent writing, action, heartbreak and loss, tempered with fun and laugh out loud moments. Highly entertaining with an addictive comic book/super hero feel. I have no hesitation in recommending. Explosively good fun.

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Death, Flex and Clakkers

Art it Up.  This is a meme hosted by Tabitha over at Not Yet Read.  The idea being to see if you can come up with some inspiration for a little sketch or doodle from your last week’s reading or just anything else in general. My recent reading includes Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz, The Death House by Sarah Pinborough and I’m currently reading The Mechanical by Ian Tregillis.  This weird little picture is a strange mash-up!

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Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz

Posted On 26 February 2015

Filed under Book Reviews
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Comments Dropped 25 responses

I just loved Flex.  It gripped me virtually immediately with a very shocking start and then just had me hooked.  I really, really enjoyed it and it brings a whole new meaning to what goes around comes around!  This book is all about the payback and weighing the options that are in front of you.

Flex brings to us a world where magic exists.  In every other way the world is as we know it, well, except that Europe has been eliminated as a result of a cataclysmic event caused by magic users.  You see, every time magic is created (Flex) there is a downside, if you will, (Flux) and this has to go somewhere.  It usually ends up injuring the loved ones of those practising magic meaning they are usually quite solitary souls.  Consequently, magic is outlawed.  Magic users are feared and hated.  They’re like terrorists because of the damage they cause.  They’re hunted and when found indoctrinated (or brainwashed) in the army – where all the magic users now have a ‘hive’ mind mentality with no freedom of thought.  The flux can tear holes into the world that just basically swallow everything and so those with the ability to conjure, ‘mancers’, are hated with a vengeance.

The thing with Flex is that it’s kind of addictive and can be stored in crystals and used by others. The results are not usually good though because people ‘using’ Flex don’t know their own limits and they certainly don’t know how to syphon off the flux in the least damaging way, even experienced ‘mancers can still cause a ‘rain of toads’.  In that respect the book gets off to an immediate start.

Paul Tasbo is the main character in the book.  Paul used to be a cop.  He went after a ‘mancer and instead of following the golden rule (call in back up) he went in alone.  The result, he lost a foot during a shooting.  The ‘mancer was killed and Paul was the only person to survive such a meeting!  Consequently he became quite famous there for a while with all the ‘mancer haters’ loving him!  Paul left the force and went into insurance.  Strangely, this is where the story really comes into it’s own.  Paul has a love of paperwork and keeping things in order and his love of all things in their rightful place seems to extend to him having his own magical ability.  Paul is a Bureaucromancer!  Seriously!

Now, at the start of the book we have a series of terrible events that give a good idea of how seriously bad the Flux can really be.  However, these events have been orchestrated by a ‘mancer on a mission, almost a serial killer.  Unfortunately, during one of these attacks Paul’s daughter Aliya is badly hurt and now he’s hellbent on finding the culprit.  Coupled with this his his desire to learn more about his magic and his need to help his daughter.

This book is just so damned good.  There is plenty of action and the magic is great to read about with all the different strains.  Paul ends up with a ‘mentor’ called Valentine.  A young woman who is gamemancer – just how cool is that.  And, that’s the thing this book is filled with ‘all the cool’.  You can totally get your geek on with all the gaming references and Valentine is an excellent character with her obsessive gaming. In fact, Paul and Valentine make an excellent team.

Why did I love this book.  Well, whilst it feels like it has lots of things that may ‘remind’ you of other things it also feels totally unique.  It has the feel of something that would be great in a comic book and the action and magic put you in mind of super heroes.  That’s not to say that the magic is totally explained – or maybe I’m just too dense!  It seems that if you obssess enough about a thing you twist reality or physics into something more and unleash your own potential. Then there’s the whole conundrum of right vs wrong, loss, betrayal and – well, just everything.

Not a terribly eloquent review I have to admit – I’m probably too close to having just finished the book and still feeling in that excited zone that you reach when you read something different and compelling.  But, well, it may not be the most well written I hope that I’ve made my feelings clear.

I have no hesitation in recommending this book.  I don’t have any criticisms.  In fact I can’t conceive of anybody not liking it.  I want more.

I received a copy of this from the publishers through Netgalley.  The above is my own opinion.

‘January brings the snow’… a quick recap

This is going to be my monthly round up post.  A quick catch up.

Books read:

  1. Transmuted, Karina Cooper – also reviewed by Lisa (Over the Effing Rainbow)
  2. Tempered – Karina Cooper
  3. Engraved – Karina Cooper
  4. Atlanta Burns – Chuck Wendig – also reviewed by Tammy (Books, Bones and Buffy)
  5. The Ice Twins – S K Tremayne
  6. The Just City – Jo Walton – also reviewed by Lisa (Tenacious Reader)
  7. Owl and the Japanese Circus – Kristi Charish – also reviewed by Mogsy (Bibliosanctum)
  8. The Eterna Files – Leanna Renee Hieber – review to follow
  9. Sorrow’s Isle – Jen Williams – review to follow

Backlist:

  1. Engraved – Karina Cooper
  2. Tempered – Karina Cooper

Unfinished series completed:

  1. Transmuted – Karina Cooper – No.6 of the St Croix Chronicles and end of series 1/10 completed

Books Bought:

  1. Gardens of the Moon – Steven Erikson – recommended by Sleepless Musings Thank you!!
  2. The Deaths of Tao – Wesley Chu
  3. Daughter of the Forest – Juliet Marilier
  4. Sorrow’s Isle – Jen Williams
  5. The Fire Mages – Pauline M Ross

Review Books:

  1. Golden Son – Pierce Brown
  2. The Way Inn – Will Wiles
  3. The Bees – Laline Paull
  4. The Ship – Antonia Honeywell
  5. Inspector of the Dead – David Morrell
  6. Flex –  Ferrett Steinmetz

Vintage Sci Fi at the Little Red Reviewer and Sci Fi Experience 2015 at Stainless Steel Droppings

I was hoping to do better with this as I only completed two books but I was simply too unorganised!  There’s always next year though 😀

  1. A Princess of Mars – Edgar Rice Burroughs
  2. Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury

Cover spotlight: