Wednesday, May 17, 2017

SciFi/Fantasy Book Review: Bookburners Season 2 by Max Gladstone, Muir Lafferty, Margaret Dunlap, Brian Slattery, Amar El-Mohtar, Andrea Phillips

Long Review after the Jump:

Bookburners is a serial published by Serial Box Publishing.  By "serial" I mean it publishes each chapter separately and charges for each chapter separately, basically as if each chapter is an episode of a TV Show.  The first season of Bookburners was collected into a full volume in both print and ebook, while this Season, Season 2, is available in a compilation as an ebook (but isn't discounted).  I read Season 2 as the compilation was available to my online library. There are six authors who collaporated on this volume - the original four from season 1 - Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Brian Slattery and Muir Lafferty - plus two newcomers Andrea Phillips and Amal El-Mohtar.  I admit, yet again, I didn't really see that big of a difference in who was writing, though I wasn't looking particularly hard for it.

Season 1 introduced the Bookburners Team 3 - a team of vatican agents who travel around the world trying to keep the world safe from magic, containing magic artifacts and books in a vault.  The team consists of Sal, american police woman who joined the team to start S1 to save her brother from a demon; Liam, a computer/technical expert who lost two years of his life to a demon and may have been involved in a techno-magical cult; Grace, a former Chinese Special Agent who has been turned into a magical being whose life exists only when a candle is lit; Asanti, the archivist whose job is to archive the magical artifacts and books for the Vatican, but feels a longing to learn more about magic and to possibly learn to use it; and Father Menchu, the priest who leads the team who tries to balance between the risks of magic and saving the world.  The season adds one new character, Frances, as an assistant to Asanti with an interest in magic, but she isn't really developed like the other characters.

The season leaves the loose ends of Season 1 behind (So Perry isn't in this season), to focus upon Liam's past, and Asanti's quest to learn about magic and maybe drag the Vatican into a new age without a prohibition on researching it.  It....isn't as successful a plotline as season 1 - I feel like Liam is way too willing to use magic than he was in Season 1 despite his experiences through both seasons and well, Asanti's story is in large part her quest to get the Vatican to lift its ban upon researching and using magic, but.....the story experiences suggest heavily she's wrong.  And the story tone seems to me to clearly be suggesting we're meant to think her right. So it doesn't quite work.

Note: This season is less stand alone than the first season - each chapter is more clearly part of the larger story, with few stand-alone-ish stories than in Season 1.  I kind of miss the stand alone episodes, as this season's long plotline gets kind of exhausting.

That said, this story still is a fun read and for the most part, the characters (absent Francese) are still really easy to love and a joy to read.  So like Season 1, this is still worth a read, although maybe a little less than Season 1.  If you enjoyed season 1, you'll like season 2.  If you found S1 meh, you won't love this.  Pretty much as expected.  The story ends on a tantalizing cliffhanger for Season 3, which I have higher hopes for.

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