And for our dear protagonists, they have quite a lot of 'mancy to account for. And the biggest source of that magic is now a little girl, perhaps the youngest known 'mancer out there. And when you give such a young person so much power with equally significant consequences, you have a lot of potential danger.
This second book felt a lot smoother, as if Steinmetz was feeling more comfortable in his writing this time around. There are still some awkward narrative bits here and there, but that's understandable. The overall effect is still pretty awesome and quite a lot of fun, too. And that's really all that matters.
Synopsis: The Flux is the second book in the 'Mancer series by Ferrett Steinmetz. Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion of the work.
Aliyah, daughter of our hero Paul Tsabo, is now eight years old and is truly coming into her own videogamemancy powers. But they do their best to hide her abilities from the world lest she become a target of government SMASH forces or the next target of the anti-'mancer task force that Paul heads up for the city of New York. And while Paul does his best to play both sides while keeping Aliyah and fellow videogamemancer Valentine safe, he's also finding his efforts being thwarted by a figure known only as the King of New York, who keeps tipping off the policy to his 'mancer activities.
What I Liked: This book involves exploring a lot of different flavors of 'mancy, and this was a lot of fun. Sure, not all 'mancy readily has "combat applications" as it were, but it's still fun to see where obsessions can take people in this world. And there are some brilliant ideas in this book that show Steinmetz's own love for pop culture.
And we have some great character moments, which shows a lot of growth for the author. It's easyd to get lost in the fight scenes and the spectacle of a world with such varied forms of magic like this one. So it was nice to see him keep the eye on the ball and make sure characters remain human no matter how big things get.
What Could Have Been Better: As much as the book jumps forward, it felt like we started a few steps back with Paul again needing to create the magic drug Flex for the mob. And given how the first book also ended with Paul managing to pull off a major feat of 'mancy without dealing with the consequences of flux, it was a little weird at first to see him once again paying the price for any 'mancy he'd tigger. It was sort of explained later in the book, but not all that adequately.
TL;DR: The Flux is a great follow-up to Flex and a nice expansion of his world. The pacing can feel a tad weird at times as more of the action shifts from Paul, but it's still a fun adventure. The book gets a good 4 different styles of 'mancy at work out of a possible 5.