Mankind lost the battle for its soul without knowing. Evil won. And no Chosen Ones are coming to the rescue.
Enter Jestin Kase, a foster kid on the run in Chicago. He finds himself drawn into the underbelly of civilization, where the Three Great Schools of Magic are crippled by their own corruption and unable to push back against the Great Dark. Monsters from Babylonian myth, demons, and the enthralled thrive beneath the notice of everyone. Only one force of good remains: an ancient magic called Dragon Metal. And Jestin is determined to learn its secrets.
But how much of a difference can one person make in a world that’s already fallen?
There’s no fate.
Only Metal. And those brave enough to wield it.
I finally gave up on this book at 52%. Normally, when I’ve made it past the 30% mark, I will do my best to continue to finish a book, even if I dislike it or am struggling to make myself read, purely due to the sunk cost. And, because, maybe there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe the book picks up, or a plot twist will surprise me. Unfortunately, with this book, I simply didn’t want to keep reading.
Jestin is a character with a very decided voice. It comes across as the ‘too cool to care’ snark of the mid-2000s, when it was fashionable to make fun of the things popular culture embraced. He feels so over it, so jaded, so unimpressed with anything and everything that it’s tiresome and obnoxious in equal measure. His sense of humor feel very much trying too hard, such as naming his cat “Growly McHissy-Face.” It’s a joke that gets repeated again and again. And not finding it funny the first time, I certainly didn’t find it funny on repeat.
The same sense of being over it all also permeates the plot in the portion I read. No one really seems to care about what’s happening. Whether they’re fighting unbeatable demons (easily beaten), monsters as old as the world itself and filled with all the evil that ever there evil’d (also easily beaten), or sitting down to look cool in black leather in their hangout, characters come across as having that same lack of care. Every character I encountered seems to snark the same way, smirk the same way, sigh and eye roll and shrug the same way.
I also had issues with the author’s choice of writing style, which goes from narrative to descriptive and back again, often in the same paragraph. One moment it’s Jestin thinking, acting, or observing … and the next it’s the reader as we watch someone think, act, or observe. I found it off-putting and clumsy. Then there’s the added issue of the setting, which goes from a dark lair hidden beneath the city to a magical school where children are sorted into houses, where bullies run rampant, and there are strange ghosts lurking in the hallways. There are also magical devices that turn normal children into a super-powered fighting force, with each child having a different and unique power. Nothing in this book felt cohesive to itself in the part I read; it felt like a mash-up of many different tropes without any one moment where anything felt unique to this book and this world.
Having said all that, humor is subjective and not everyone shares my taste. There will be readers out there who delight in this author’s jokes. I am just not one of them. There is no part of this book that worked for me. The writing style made reading the book feel very off-putting, the villains and characters felt one-dimensional, and since no one else seemed to care about the big bag lurking in the shadows other than it being inconvenient, it couldn’t have been that bad or that big. This is a solid pass from me.