The mundane of life is expertly and thrillingly turned magical in Ferrett Stenmetz’s Flex. Stenmetz’s take on New York and Urban Fantasy is masterfully written. With ease, Steinmetz delivers a page turner that is hands-down the best book I’ve read in a long time.
FLEX: Distilled magic in crystal form. The most dangerous drug in the world. Snort it, and you can create incredible coincidences to live the life of your dreams.
FLUX: The backlash from snorting Flex. The universe hates magic and tries to rebalance the odds; maybe you survive the horrendous accidents the Flex inflicts, maybe you don’t.
PAUL TSABO: The obsessed bureaucromancer who’s turned paperwork into a magical Beast that can rewrite rental agreements, conjure rented cars from nowhere, track down anyone who’s ever filled out a form.
But when all of his formulaic magic can’t save his burned daughter, Paul must enter the dangerous world of Flex dealers to heal her. Except he’s never done this before – and the punishment for brewing Flex is army conscription and a total brain-wipe.
I could simply state that you really need to read Flex. It’s entertaining, funny, and has a great balance of adventure and action. That wouldn’t begin to touch why I loved reading Flex. So if you haven’t clicked over to buy it yet, let me tell you why it deserves your time.
The characters are fun and flawed with the protagonist being a bit too judgmental and a female lead that doesn’t have the typical book/movie physique. It makes the characters real and relatable. I want to shake Paul for his inner prejudices and ask Valentine where she got her latest corset. This creates an immediate relationship between reader and characters, adding to the immersive feel.
The story is fast-paced and multi-faceted. The main story is broken up into segments focusing on the protagonist coming into power. overcoming an enemy, and finally overcoming an even bigger enemy. Where most authors would try to draw this out into several novels, Steinmetz kept the storytelling natural. It was the perfect length, and it helped to make Flex feel like a satisfying read.
All of these aspects aren’t nearly as important as how amazing the magic is in Flex. Steinmetz creates a world where each ‘mancer is highly specialized. Valentine, the female lead, controls gaming and brings them to life spectacularly. We get to see her turn a somber scene into an incarnation of Mario Kart and she uses the skin of a minor Metal Gear Solid boss to make a nefarious deal. Paul’s type of magic is even more fascinating. He wields power over rules or more specifically, the bureaucratic process. He uses revoking forms and paper cranes to change the reality around him, literally making the mundane magical.
The overall plot lends itself to thrill with a crime fiction feel that navigates organized crime and law enforcement alike. Timing is perfect and the excitement is amplified by the quirky humor. I don’t think think it’d be an overstatement to say that Flex delivers everything I wanted in a novel: action, geekery, realism, and fun. Trust me, you’ll be missing out if you don’t enjoy this must-read.