I really wanted to like Jim C. Hines’s latest book, Libriomancer. And there were parts I did like, very much. Donna did a great job summarizing the plot in her review yesterday, so I’m just going to write my opinions.
Things I liked:
- It’s set in Michigan. I’m (more or less) from Michigan, so I’m always happy to see it show up in a fantasy novel. I was also happy that Hines didn’t indulge in ruin porn when it came to the parts set in Detroit.
- The magic system is really awesome, but I have some concerns. I loved the way the source of the books power rests in the readers and their belief in the books.
- The two main characters, Isaac Vainio and Lena Greenwood, are fantastic and I love the resolution of the romantic conundrum they find themselves in at the end of the book (LOVE IT).
- Lena is explicitly described as being “heavyset” and extremely attractive and I loved that about her character. There just aren’t that many kick-ass fat women in fantasy novels who also get to have sex lives.
- Smudge! Yay, Smudge!
- Hines’s close attention to language that can be hurtful to marginalized groups–it’s nice to pick up a book and know that there probably isn’t going to be thoughtless violence or language against women or other less privileged groups.
Things I didn’t like:
- One of the characters has the same name, general occupation, and appearance as someone I know (she is a friend of both mine and of the author’s). I found this extremely distracting. I admit that this is a very Natalie-specific complaint and likely wasn’t an issue for anyone else. I’ve read lots of other books with tuckerizations, but they’re generally bit characters, not major secondary characters.
- A lot of the action felt very rushed and a bit sloppy.
- The magic system, while awesome, also can lend itself to some serious deus ex machina action–which Hines has seemed to mitigate in the text so far but I give the possibility the side-eye.
There was just something about this book that didn’t gel for me–I really liked an awful lot about it and I think the concept of the magic system is really fascinating and the characters were great. But overall, it fell a bit flat for me and I’m not sure why. I’ll probably pick up the next book in the series when it comes out next year, but I’ll either wait for the paperback or buy an electronic edition.
Note: My copy of this book was provided by the publisher as part of my previous association with RT Book Reviews. I actually ended up with two copies of it, so the first one I received (a bound manuscript) was sent to the person who reviewed it for the magazine and the ARC I received a month or so later went into my to be read pile.