Oct 10, 2016

[Books] Fix ('Mancer Book 3)

And here we are, the last book of Ferrett Steinmetz's 'Mancer series. It has been an interesting exploration of obsessions and geeky passions being used as a focus for magical ability. The first book explored the nature of this magic and how it had so many different flavors. The second book explored the consequences of magic.

The Fix is the third book in the series and it ends up exploring a whole new side to things - the Unimancers that have acted as the mysterious and ominous threat hounding our protagonists since the very beginning. They had been presented as mindless zombies who had lost all signs of humanity as their unique magics had been absorbed into the hive mind. This book challenges that notion and reveals more about how their organization works, thus turning things around entirely.

And while at times this book felt significantly different from the other titles, this wasn't necessarily a bad thing. There was clearly some serious effort to further flesh out other aspects of the world depicted here and to avoid the trap of making things totally black and white.

Synopsis: Fix is the third book in Ferret Steinmetz's 'Mancer series as published by Angry Robot Books. Disclosure: I received a free review copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for my honest opinion of the work.

Some time has passed since the events of The Flux and Paul Tsabo has been making progress gathering support for 'mancer rights in America. At the same time his daughter Aliyah is getting older and craves to be among girls her age instead of always being on the run from SMASH and other government forces. But in an  effort to give her a sense of normalcy by letting her play at a local soccer game turns south when Aliyah accidentally uses her videogamemancy at the game, thus alerting everyone in the crowd to her real identity. What makes matters worse is their frantic use of magic against local law enforcement results in another Broach being created - one that Paul is unable to close in time before SMASH arrives. Things just keep getting worse and worse until SMASH finally manages to catch up with them and Paul manages to betray the unwritten contract between him and the magic.

What I Liked: The book really tried to take things to a new level by elevating Paul's struggle for survival to the challenge of fighting for 'mancer rights. But to be fair, it was a when they shifted the story to the side of the Unimancers that really introduced some interesting new ideas and brought a whole new dimension to this story.

It was also nice to have Aliyah progress to a new level of coming into herself and being more than petulant young child with way to much power. The life of a 'mancer is tough enough, but throw in the absence of any semblance of a "normal" life. So it was interesting to see her want to explore this part of life. And this side of things continues to eat away at her as she tries to figure what that sense of normalcy really means for her.

What Could Have Been Better: The shift to the new status quo of sorts was a little abrupt at happens a little too early on for comfort. Sure, I get why they did that and I understand the desire to get the story over to the side of the Unimancers as soon as possible but maybe the transition could have been a little easier. And the book also has a significant shift in Paul's thinking and outlook and life and while I can sort of understood it, I'm not 100% sure if it felt all that logical in terms of execution and maybe that could have been executed better.

The book also largely didn't quite know what to do with Valentine, which was sort of a growing problem since the last book. She's a strong character but perhaps defined too much by her propensity for violence and that's such a shame. She's a great character and she deserved better than what she got her. The ending was a little better and provided some degree of redemption for her, but still for the rest of the book she was so much violent window dressing.

TL;DR: Fix is a nice wrap-up to the story of Paul Tsabo and his family that didn't require unnecessary deaths or things of that nature. It gives everyone a decent ending or at least a good path for the future. Thus the book gets a good 4 surprise revelations about the Unimancers out of a possible 5.

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