Book Review: The Flux

The Flux by Ferret Steinmetz, Mancer #2

Love something enough, and your obsession will punch holes through the laws of physics. That devotion creates unique magics: videogamemancers. Origamimancers. Culinomancers.

But when ‘mancers battle, cities tremble…

ALIYAH TSABO-DAWSON: The world’s most dangerous eight-year-old girl. Burned by a terrorist’s magic, gifted strange powers beyond measure. She’s furious that she has to hide her abilities from her friends, her teachers, even her mother – and her temper tantrums can kill.

PAUL TSABO: Bureaucromancer. Magical drug-dealer. Desperate father. He’s gone toe-to-toe with the government’s conscription squads of brain-burned Unimancers, and he’ll lie to anyone to keep Aliyah out of their hands – whether Aliyah likes it or not.

THE KING OF NEW YORK: The mysterious power player hell-bent on capturing the two of them. A man packing a private army of illegal ‘mancers.

Paul’s family is the key to keep the King’s crumbling empire afloat. But offering them paradise is the catalyst that inflames Aliyah’s deadly rebellious streak…


Ferret Steinmetz surprised a lot of people earlier this year with Flex the first book in the 'Mancer series published by Angry Robot. Flex for me was a book that brought something completely refreshing to the Urban Fantasy genre. The concept of  "mancy" is just sheer brilliance. Of course a concept doesn't solely make a book, it takes more and also in this field Ferret Steinmetz didn't fail to deliver. Writing a set of solid set of characters to show the concept by. One thing that I hate about series is when they take ages to show the sequel. I don't know if Angry Robot pushes it's authors but they have a good schedule, I personally hadn't expected to see the sequel this Fall, but you don't hear me complain. 

The Flux picks up after the events of Flex, though sometime has passed. Aliyah, Paul's daughter has slowly grown to the age of eight years old and Paul is currently leading the anti mancer task force in New York. Everything seems to be going rather smoothly. I forgot to mention that Paul is still a bureaucromancer, he has the power of paperwork, now it might not sound very exciting but trust me it is. Already in the first few pages of the book Ferret Steinmetz readily accelerates the story to a breakneck speed, showing the goodness of Mancy. Paul and Valentine, a videogamemancer have somethings to pay and one of the best ways to do it is to make Flex. Which the strongest drug out there, and loved and more over needed by many, because it grants powers.  However one power known as The King of New York doesn't fully agree with what Paul is doing. A small spoiler. Paul has been running the Mancer Task Force, their job is to catch Mancer but Paul of course does everything not to get caught himself, because you know... Anyway The King of New York finds that it is time for Paul to get caught. And the Task Force gets an anonymous tip on Paul's location. Just as when Paul and Valentine think they are done, certain things hit the fan... And thus they both have to use their Mancer powers to safe the day. It all works to a certain degree, as Aliyah, makes things slightly more difficult... Now things start to get complicated. Paul was in charge of the Task Force but well things start to get to the surface due to the King and in order to keep himself and his family safe Paul has to track down the King and get rid of him. But with the powers that the King has these things are easier said then done. A true test of powers.

i have been thinking about this a lot. This book is called The Flux and if you know the flex system of magic, you know what flux is, the negative feedback that makes you very sick and unable to do anything. If you take this into account the story makes a lot more sense. Paul has been living a steady life able to manipulate a lot of things with his bureaucromancy, but in the end things have to give... And this is comparable to the flux feedback. Quite brilliant if I say so.

Of course The Flux shines in the magic department, I wouldn't have though otherwise. The magic system that Ferret Steinmetz has developed is awesome, if you love something enough, things might happen. However just having a cool sounding magic system won't cut it, it also takes utilization. And this utilization is precisely what Ferret Steinmetz aces. You get truly drawn into the whole Mancer system and what it takes to be a Mancer. It is not only just having fun. 

Seqeuels can be a tricky thing. They shouldn't stall, postpone or drag the story to a halt. Ferret Steinmetz circumvented this by creating on one hand an action packed plotline with Paul trying to get to the King of New York and on the other hand delving deeper into the characters. By letting The Flux take place a few years after Flex there is a lot of time to catch up and this is one side that is told, the other that Ferret Steinmetz shows more of some of the character relationships as well. Like how Paul and Imani think and not think alike about Aliyah. Flex already brought with it some hints but they do get fully shown in The Flux, all to my pleasure. This complicates the story in a very good way. This somewhat more emotional track gives a nice balance towards the action packed other track that is steam-waltzing through The Flux.

Just as with Flex, I can only say good things about The Flux. Storywise it is definitely one of the coolest things that I read in a long time. Ferret Steinmetz shows a lot of creativity with the whole Mancer magic system that he has divised. Delving deeper into what is takes to be a Mancer, he doesn't shy away from showing the bad and the ugly as well. I will be definitely checking out The Fix next year. If you need your fix in the meantime make sure you get the Mancer series. Good stuff I tell you. 

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