I finished Flex almost the day it came out and since then, it has been my go-to recommendation for new fantasy. Want something like Ready Player One (but maybe without being only about the pop-culture references)? Flex. Like RPGs/videogames/high-action cinematic fiction? Flex. Tired of cliched characters and unimaginative magic systems? Flex.
Now, the sequel The Flux is coming out and I can't wait to get my hands on it. But first I need to get out one last internet squeal of delight at how much I enjoyed Flex. I can't say it any better than my original review:
Holy crap, guys! This hit so many sweet spots for me. Maybe it's that I play tabletop roleplaying games for the stories and I run them so I get to make the stories, but even when I'm doing neither I find it so nice to just sit there and think of stories in those worlds. Maybe it's that I like well-put-together Excel spreadsheets and neat handwriting, and having my books alphabetized. If you're wondering what I'm rambling about, it's that Steinmetz manages to mash these things together into an amazing, fast paced, urban fantasy (no romance!) that has so many elements that I loved that I can't pick out any that I didn't.
Paul is a burocromancer, he makes rules work in his favor. He loves them and they love him back. The only problem is that 'mancy is super-dangerous, illegal, and seems to have gained him a nemesis. Along with Valentine, a chubby, kinky videogamemancer, Paul sets out to get enough money to afford the facial reconstruction surgery for his recently burned daughter that the tight-fisted insurance company that employs him denied. It's the one bureaucratic hell where he dares not break any rules lest he lose his job, his health insurance, and any hope of his daughter making it back to health without financially ruining him for the rest of his life.
Highly recommended as a book I couldn't put down. I've already pre-ordered the sequel coming out this fall.
And speaking of breaking cliches that glorious goddess on the cover is Valentine.