FIX by Ferrett Steinmetz
Posted November 19, 2016on:
published Sept 2016
where I got it: purchased new
Fix is the final entry in Ferrett Steinmetz’s ‘Mancy trilogy. If you’re just joining us, check out my reviews of the first two books, Flex and The Flux, and don’t read any further in this review because hey, spoilers for the first two books. Fix takes place a few years after The Flux – Aliyah is a teenager, Paul and Imani are back together, Valentine and Robert are trying to make things work, and the whole family is living in hiding. But what are you gonna do with a bored and lonely teenager? Take her to play some soccer, of course. Take the world’s youngest and most talented videogamemancer to play youth soccer?? This is not going to end well.
Not only does the soccer game go poorer than anyone expected, Aliyah’s magic is exposed and now she’s on the radar of the Unimancers, the government hive mind of their captured ‘mancers. Paul and Valentine are literally going to have to up their game to ensure Aliyah’s safety.
I’ve been lucky enough to see Ferrett Steinmetz at Conventions and attend his readings. My friends, if you ever find yourself in the same city as Ferrett, get yourself in the same room with him in the hopes you will hear him read his work. The man has an amazing voice. At first it seems he’s reading slowly. But no, those are deliberate, planned pauses. Those are moments in which the words he is saying (and not just the sound, but the words and the meaning and the weight) sink in. He’s doing you a favor – giving you time to absorb and digest what you are hearing. While I was reading Fix I heard Ferrett’s voice reading it to me. Slower than I usually read, a kindly and sympathetic voice encouraged me to slow down to experience the full effect of getting kicked in the feels in nearly every chapter. Thanks Ferrett, for making my cry for like an hour while finishing this book!
You know how in an action movie, the last 25 minutes of the movie is pure, solid action? Lots of explosions, lots of car chases, lots of crazy weapons and punches thrown and people getting thrown out of windows and such? Fix is those 25 minutes. This novel is nearly solid action, and it sort of needs to be, because this is the climax of the entire story. This is where Aliyah finds out who she is. But as with the previous books, it’s the little intimate scenes that make the book shine so bright. Honestly, I couldn’t care less about the action. I find a lot of that kind of stuff boring.
So to me, this wasn’t an action book. It’s a heartbreaking book about parents cutting the apron strings. It’s about keeping your child safe while letting them make all the normal mistakes teenagers make. It’s about seeing a reflection of yourself in your child. That’s what this book is about. If there’s such a thing as a coming of age book where it’s the adult coming of age (you can grow up at any age), this is that book. And yes, I laughed out loud when the classic parent line “I don’t care if you want to ______ but damnit you’ll do it safely!” line was brought out!
Oh, and the Unimancers? Can’t say much because it’s super spoilery, but damn was that whole plot line hella awesome. I hope there are some cool reddit threads on the Unimancers because their hive mind thing and their origin needs to be talked about. A whole novel about them would rock my world.
In the previous books, Paul’s ex-wife Imani has stayed to the sidelines. That’s understandable, as Paul kept his and Aliyah’s ‘mancy a secret from her, and for good reason. Thanks to the events of The Flux, Imani is now the proud mama of a videogamemancer. But I don’t care about that stuff. What makes Imani so relatable to me is how she views the world. Lemme back up a little bit, otherwise this won’t make any sense. Valentine and Aliyah are master videogamemancers. They relentlessly memorize game patterns, menu options, and boss levels. Mastery of a game means a literal level up in their ‘mancy. Imani has no ‘mancy, and she’s learned through years of corporate law that no amount of effort, memorization, or brute force ever guarantees a victory. Not only does she view the path to victory differently, but she defines victory differently than Valentine and Aliyah.
I see the world the way Imani does. I’ve lived through “But I memorized everything! I tried my best! I did everything I could! I should have won that level, damn it! Where are my points for effort?”, and still shitty things happened. The next day, I stood up, brushed myself off, and started coming up with other ideas, started changing how I viewed the game, maybe changed my definition of victory conditions. Life doesn’t work the way videogames do. Videogames have rules. Life does not. That might sound cynical, but to me it is freeing.
It is not the truth that will set you free, but belief. And it doesn’t matter what you believe, you just need to believe in something. Yourself, for starters.
And speaking of you, sounds like you got some Steinmetz to read. And then go find a Convention that Ferrett Steinmetz will be at so you can thank him in person.