Dear The Flux,
This is a letter, not a review, because "review" implies some kind of reasonable discussion of features and flaws, while a "letter" can be, for example, a simple thank you-note. Or a flailing fan letter. A sentimental love letter.
You see where I'm going with this. I know you do, because you're smart, just like your older sibling Flex, and that's certainly part of the reason I keep babbling at people about you. Smart and funny and terrifying. Oh, and baffling.
Really. You made me shout yes! and no! and what?!. There was giggling, too. I, the reader, am a quiet person with a squeaky-tiny voice - all this shouting and arm-flailing, then, is no everyday matter. You are an unusually charming book, and you trigger unusual responses.
Of course, Flex introduced me to your magic system, and I fell instantly in love. You have expanded upon this, raising eyebrows at me as I read, talking about magic as geekdom and geekdom as love - and loneliness. I was scared for a while you were going to get awkward and pushy and forcefully declare a message, but, you know, I think you did just fine. A little bumbling, perhaps, but not enough to raise my eyebrow in return. I was too busy loving your characters.
(Thank you for the catladymancer, by the way. I'm about the right age to come into my own 'mancy, and I think I can see where I'm headed.)
Forgive me, I'm still a little starry-eyed, stumbling on words, trying and failing to make complete sentences about all of your qualities and accomplishments. Roses are red, violets are blue, Valentine is kick-ass, and Paul Tsabo is too. Um.
In Flex, drugs and drug-making was a big part of the story - this is magic that can be sold as a pill, after all - and, oh, Paul hasn't quite gotten out of that scene. But this isn't where we find the antagonists in the Flux. This time, the antagonists soar in from the sides, and set fire to a lot of things - but mostly, the conflict comes from the insides of people. Characters who've had experiences they don't know how to cope with, don't know how to share with others, ramming against tall walls of fear and resentment and incomplete images of the world. How do you go about raising a nearly nine year-old girl with easily-lethal magic power and a bad case of PTSD? How can you ever have love and intimacy when you know your own flux won't hesitate to home in on anyone you hold dear and smash them to pieces?
We get a little glimpse of the Big Scary; the otherworldly buzzsects, creatures swarming outside, waiting for the fabric of our reality to tear up and let them in. I believe these guys might feature heavily in the next book, which I'm already convinced will be spectacular.
Dear book about passion-become-magic, that thing I said about myself as a catladymancer, I don' think it's true. I think the specific joy of knowing you'd read the book you're reading rather than do anything else possible, such as eat a double cheese whopper or visit the shark aquarium or make waffles for Ted Danson, that's the 'mancy for me. You provide that burst of joy. Thank you, the Flux, now will you go tell the Fix to hurry up?