Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I picked up the Kindle version of Geekomancy to read on a trip a couple of months ago. I had seen a lot of positive reviews comparing it to Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One, which I really liked, and I thought a fun, lighthearted novel would be perfect for travelling. Unfortunately, for me, Geekomancy didn’t live up to my expectations.
Geekomancy is Michael Underwood’s first published novel. I hate to say it, but you can tell. Although I liked the concept of the novel, it lacked the polish of novels by more experienced writers.
One of the biggest problems with Underwood’s writing was the overwhelming geek culture references. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge geek and I appreciate a good Star Wars reference or what have you, but there were just too many. I mean, as much as I like the show, when you are making Warehouse 13 references, I think you might be reaching a bit. Frankly, the sheer number of references was distracting.
I also had some major problems with the pacing. There were times when the action was ramping up and our protagonist, Ree, had some major butt to kick and she would stop for coffee or make a phone call. What? Why?
Perhaps my biggest issue with the novel though was the magic system. It just didn’t make much sense. I understand that we’re talking about fantasy here, but a good magic system has rules to govern it. Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn is a great example of a unique magic system that works because it has concrete rules.
There are just so many questions. Why don’t all geeks gain magic powers by watching the Matrix? If the power is limited to only some people, how did Ree NOT know about it before Eastwood told her? I mean, it’s not like he really gave her instruction and she didn’t seem to do anything special to absorb the power. Why did Eastwood have to destroy memorabilia when Ree could just watch a movie? How does the magic choose what power you get if you watch something like The Avengers?
On top of all that, the plot really just wasn’t that great. Eastwood’s character in particular was a problem. His motivations were definitely shaky and I just didn’t like how his story played out.
I could continue to poke holes in the novel, but I think I’ve said enough on that front. Really, the novel wasn’t all bad. It was actually pretty fun at times and pretty creative. If you’re willing to look past the issues, there’s a good chance that you’ll actually enjoy the novel.