Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I read FLEX a month ago, dictated notes for my review, and now I can't access those notes because Dragon Dictation keeps crashing upon open. So I'll try to rely on my memory here.
There's a lot to love about this book. I'm a fan of Breaking Bad and "Firestarter," and this has some of the best elements of both. Paul is a law-abiding citizen who makes a drug in order to save his daughter—but once he gets sucked into that underworld, it's hard to get out. And his drugs are particularly pure, which makes them perfect aids for the worst criminals in society.
To me, the character relationships and emotions were very well-written. There's a swiftly moving plot, and some really fun dialogue and such. I'll definitely read the sequel!
Because I'm the world's most critical audience member, I do have gripes. I gripe about almost every story. In this case, my major gripe has to do with world-building and theme, which means I can't talk about it without giving spoilers. If you don't care about the cogency of a magic system or consistency in a story's premise, then skip this next part! It's an awesome book.
At first, I loved the idea of obsessive behavior translated to sorcery. An art lover has power to make paintings come to life. A video-game collector has power to weave video-game-based spells. A bureaucrat insurance agent has power to override or examine anything related to paperwork. It's a fun idea ... except (view spoilers on Goodreads).
There was enough pure awesome joy and fun in this novel for me to enjoy it, despite what I saw as a flawed premise. I can't wait to see what this author does in future novels!