When I read the first book in the ‘Mancer series I was only moderately impressed (see review here). I’ve glanced at the reviews on Goodreads for both the first book and this volume and it seems pretty clear that the series is a hit with most sci-fi readers. So what am I missing?
Paul Tsabo is a drug dealer. He makes “Flex” – a very powerful drug that can give a person magical abilities – or ”Mancy’ – to control the things that they are most passionate about. Bureaucrats can be ‘bureaucromancers.’ We also hear of bookiemancers and illustromancers and paleomancers and pyromancers and ninjamancers and so on. But most important to the story is the videogamemancer, Aliyah … the eight-year-old daughter to Paul.
Paul also happens to be a cop in charge of hunting down ‘Mancers. He’s the only non-mancer (or ‘mundane’) to take down a ‘Mancer. But of course there’s a reason which no one has figured out – it’s because he has the inside scoop and isn’t a mundane after all.
But Paul is also a doting father who will do whatever it takes to protect his daughter, Aliyah. This isn’t easy, given that Aliyah is one of the most powerful ‘Mancers out there and she’s still learning to understand and control her powers. She is also wrestling with the adult concepts of morality and if/when it is ever an ‘okay’ idea to kill someone – even someone who is bad and deserves to die.
The book starts off with a huge rush of action as Paul’s own police force has tracked down the Flex lab where Paul is currently cooking up a new batch and Aliyah takes her obsession with video games and her ‘mancy (‘Mancy works on a person’s obsessions) and protects her father. The entire sequence is fantastic and really hooked me. But as I came down from this Flex high, I just never got back into the story.
This story is about Paul and Aliyah. Aliyah is too young to understand the power that she wields and Paul is too spineless to really put up a good fight – which is interesting given that he makes a powerful drug and work(ed/s) with the police force. But his entire motivation is the protection of Aliyah. I’m a father, and I get that aspect, but we need something here for our protagonists to hang onto and fight for. We get a little bit of that with some of the other characters (Valentine, K-Dash and Quaysean), and there is the search for The King of New York who has some insight into the manufacturing of Flex and ‘Mancers in the area. But overall this feels like a lot of waiting for something big to happen with a bunch of drug/magic action to keep the reader from getting too antsy.
Looking for a good book? The Flux by Ferrett Steinmetz is the second book in the ‘Mancer series and starts out with an attention-getting bang but dwindles off from there.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Ferrett Steinmetz
series: ‘Mancer #2
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 400 pages