Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,
Rowyn
rowyn

Libriomancer, by Jim C. Hines

This morning, I looked through my remaining stack of unread library books, which consisted of:

* Three Aubrey/Maturin novels (I checked out the second volume of the 6-volume set, which compiles the fourth through seventh novels. I've only read #4 from it so far).
* Rue and Rosemary, by Seanan McGuire
* Two novels by Brandon Sanderson
* Unspoken, by Sarah Rees Brennan
* Libriomancer by Jim C. Hines

My intention was "forget the order that they're due back, I just want one I'm sure will not depress the hell out of me." After Feed, I wanted something upbeat.

I stared at them for a bit. I didn't expect any of them to have the grimness of Feed, but any of them struck me as having the potential for a bittersweet ending. I was tempted to get the one unread Pratchett novel I've been saving for a special occasion, but selected Libriomancer instead.

Libriomancer is a rare case where I actually liked the book better as it neared the climax and through the denouement.

The story is set in a version of modern America; magic exists, but it's kept quiet by a global conspiracy of magicians. "Libriomancy" is the ability to reach into books and pull things out of them. The narrator is one of the libriomancers; they're very rare. All magicians are very rare, and nearly all belong to the smallish (it's like 400 people worldwide) global conspiracy.

The author takes some pains to nerf libriomancy, because it's basically as insanely powerful as you'd think it would be. Even with the nerfing, it is probably best not to spend too much time trying to figure out how you would better accomplish whatever the narrator is trying to do. And some key points do come across as hand-wavey or not in keeping with things already established by the narrative.

However, especially during the climax, I found myself several times laughing with delight at clever things the protagonist attempted and pulled off, and which did feel in keeping with the established narrative.

As one might expect, there are many references to both classic and contemporary literature; I quite enjoyed this aspect of the story. Although I screamed aloud when the protagonist pulled out a copy of Feed. "NOOOO DO NOT UNLEASH THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE ON YOUR WORLD" (Spoiler: he doesn't.)

One of the reasons that I liked the book better as I read on is that the characters took the time to examine the things that were nagging at me; for example, it is not just blandly assumed that the mundanes are "better off" not knowing about magic. And the villain is completely terrifying, but kind of has a point once you see the whole picture.

The protagonist is endearingly geeky; the kind of person who tries to work out all the implications of magical or science fiction devices. At one point, he fires a white beam from a conjured microwave gun, and reacts with 'White light? From microwaves? That doesn't even make sense'. My favorite quote is probably this thought bubble, after he succeeds at a dangerous experiment: This is awesome I'm talking to someone through a book oh shit he's going to kill me how the hell do I get out of here?

It is also the only book outside of Austen that has a love triangle I don't hate. I realized this about two-thirds of the way through the novel: "Wow, this love triangle does not bother me at all." Which never happens. Mostly I liked this one because the people involved act like adults and not small children in a state of constant jealousy-fueled tension. I think I will do a separate rant just about this, because I want to do a spoiler-ful version.

I was thinking 7 or 8 during the first half of the book, but I am going to give it a 9 of 10 because by the end I can think of way more things that I liked than that I didn't.
Tags: book review, books, review
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