Book Review: Hard Magic

So, this is not actually going to be my own book review, because John C. Wright has written a book review for Correia’s Hard Magic, so I’m just going to point everybody over there to read that, instead. And it reminded me that I need to go buy the sequel, Spellbound, so that whenever Loncon 3 gets off their butts and sends out the Hugo voter packet, I will have read the backstory to Warbound and thus be able to vote properly for the novel category. (I’m still not reading any WOT. No. Just no. No way. Ugh. Maybe if some enterprising young editor took on the source material and rewrote the whole thing in a manageable size. Maybe.)

I suppose I should expound slightly on the above linked review with my own (much less entertaining) thoughts: I enjoyed Hard Magic, but not quite as much as Mr. Wright did. I think the difference is probably down to genre preferences, not anything to do with the quality of the work – I am, sad to say, no fan of classic American comics* (now called “graphic novels”) and the part of the plot that involves giving random people X-Man-like powers left me cold, until I got to the part of the plot wherein the powers’ source is explained. And it’s creepy and cool and awesome. Much more awesome than some sort of mutation gene magic. And there’s good plot twists! And somebody dies tragically and nobly acquits herself thereafter. (Yes, that is in proper order.) On the other hand, I’m not quite sure why Mr. Wright thinks there’s sex in the book, though, because although it’s implied, any perusal of romance writing will quickly show that there is not, in fact, sex in the book. Oh yes, two characters do indeed have sex with each other, but not on the pages, so to speak. I’m pretty sure I’d remember if there were an actual sex scene in the book.

In any case, my recommendation for reading audience: not suitable to those below the age of puberty, not because of the sex (which is tastefully offscreen, as mentioned before), but because the setting includes graphic descriptions of violence, war, and a setting-accurate level of foul language. Basically, I’m giving it a PG-13 rating. Direct translation to a screen would probably end up an R, for foul language and violence; however, I don’t find foul language realistically used and violence realistically portrayed something offensive to be shielded from the minds of young adults, at least not in written format.

*This is because, as an incredibly shallow person, I find the art style ugly as sin. And it’s (nearly) all drawn in the same freaking style. All the superhero classics are, at any rate. And I loathe the appearance of it. I much prefer the more stylized, clean-lined art of many Japanese graphic novels like Naruto, Rurouni Kenshin, or (for an example of a kind of “odd” art style) xxxHolic. (Those x’s should be interpreted as algebraic placeholders, not what Westerners think of “X” rated. It’s not that kind of manga, I promise!)


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2 Responses to Book Review: Hard Magic

  1. dyingearth says:

    There is actually a real good reason for the insert art and its style. Unfortunately that does not get explain until book 3. Yes, the inserted art are actually part of the storyline.

    • pancakeloach says:

      Ah, I didn’t mean to give any insult to the insert art! I thought that was rather a nice touch, actually, having pictures of some of the main characters, and the use of dark shadows certainly matches the hardboiled/noir-inspired feeling of the work itself. In small doses – and particularly, as in the book, without a cluttered background full of cross-hatching – it’s quite tolerable. I just wouldn’t be able to follow it if the story were presented fully in that medium because of my own woeful shallowness. I want to be able to appreciate a good story, but I’m afraid I will never enjoy traditionally drawn American comics or shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer due to the aesthetics. I’m just lucky it’s not a comic book. 😉

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