Thursday, August 23, 2012

Book Review--LIBRIOMANCER by Jim C. Hines

I don't usually do book reviews on my blog, mainly for the reason that I don't want authors to see me doing them and then flood my email with requests for reviews. I'm not Big Al, The Top Shelf, Kindle Obsessed, etc. I'm me. I repeat: I won't do this often. It's only when a book has moved me that I will do this.

A disclaimer: I've known Jim Hines going on six years. He and I met on MySpace after I had found his first novel, Goblin Quest, at a Borders not far from where I live now. We became fast friends, mainly on our love of fantasy. Jim invited me to send a few autographed copies of the Obloeron series to his Christmas Book Drive for a battered women's shelter in his native Michigan a few years back, and I didn't hesitate. I keep up with his blogs (I'm sure he does with mine, too), and he's always quick to like one of my book posts on Facebook. Like Steven Savile, Jim has always been in my corner when it comes to my books, and vice versa. He is an extremely talented author, and this book shows all sides of his talent.

When Jim told me about Libriomancer and what the concept was--a person who could take almost any book, reach into it and pull out an object as long as it could fit through the physical dimensions of the book--I was floored. It was original. I wished I had come up with the concept first.

That said, I knew this book was going to be great. I couldn't wait to get the book in my hands. Of course, it's publication date--August 7--coincided nicely with my recent vacation. Since I would be nowhere close to a big box bookstore during my time on the Cape (Jen and I did hit some used bookstores in Provincetown, much in the way that protagonist Isaac Vainio does in East Lansing, and yes, that old book smell hit us right when we walked in the door, too), I made sure that I had the book waiting for me in my mailbox along with two others when we arrived home. And since I was reading A Clash of Kings, I had to wait.

I should have put Martin down and picked up Jim instead. The book is THAT good.

Seriously though--what book lover wouldn't want to reach into a book and pull out a sword or a gun or, for the romance lovers out there, rip a bodice away from a maiden's body? Who wouldn't want to hold a lightsaber or a thermal detonator? Who wouldn't want to drink Alice's potions? Or even a Dungeons & Dragons potion of healing? What Jim has done with this book is simply incredible.

Isaac Vainio is a humble book cataloger at the Copper River Public Library, a fictional town on the U.P.--Upper Peninsula--of Michigan. He is a libriomancer, too, although one who has been ordered out of the field for over two years. When vampires--sparklers--attack him at work, he's forced to use his magical powers n order to survive--even though his powers come with an expense.

The story takes off from there: his friend and mentor has been killed, and his beloved Michigan State University Library has been blown to smithereens. He teams up with Lena, a dryad, and goes on the hunt, stopping at a used bookstore to get his weapons. Books ARE weapons, and always have been. He and Lena head off to East Lansing and then to Detroit. And even though the eventual antagonist may ruffle some feathers with the staunch military supporters out there, Jim did an excellent job in melding multiple personality disorder with the conditions of PTSD.

At least that's what I think he did.

There was a quote in the book that resonated with me, and I posted it on Facebook as I read the line: "Even before I learned what I was, books were my escape from the world. This place... bookstores, libraries... they're the closest thing I have to a church." Any book lover will connect with that line.

And any book lover, regardless of the genre one prefers, will love this book. It may be urban fantasy with a touch of history added--hello? Ponce de Leon wasn't just an explorer boys and girls, and Gutenburg still lives!--but I can assure you that anyone, even someone who hasn't found "that" book to infuse their love of reading, can pick this up and enjoy it. Libriomancer is one of the top five books I've read this year, without a shadow of a doubt.

I've read Jim's seven prior works, and they are good--Libriomancer tops them all, though. This is his launching pad into the publishing stratosphere. I know that Jim is hard at work on the sequel.  

And I know that the sequel will be just as good.

5 *****

Find Jim online:

Libriomancer on Amazon (Kindle and hardcover)
Libriomancer on B&N (Nook and hardcover)