Review – Codex Born (Magic Ex Libris: Book Two)

15824178I feel like I’ve been in a reading slump.  The books haven’t been bad and I’m not depressed or anything like that.  But, I just haven’t been super motivated to finish anything on my “currently reading” shelf.  Everything just feels kind of meh.  When this happens, I try to pull out a new read that I can get through in a day or less.  It can’t be anything too serious as my goal is to just lose myself in something fun – maybe romantic but it doesn’t have to be.

This weekend I chose the second book in the Libriomancer series.  If you remember, Isaac Vainio has the ability to use books to create magic.  His girlfriend, Lena, is a dryad who is also attached to Nidhi Singh.  It’s a complicated relationship and not your typical love triangle.  When a wendigo is murdered, they investigate and are drawn into a fight between the Porters (the magical group Isaac is a member of), an Asian group of libriomancers who have been around even longer than Gutenberg and a father who is using his deceased son’s inventions to gain his own power.

I am really enjoying this series so far.  Hines does a good job of world building and explaining the magic that Isaac and the others use.  It allows him a lot of freedom.  Most of the books he references are from the real world but he also makes up a few of his own (I would like to read these by the way!)  When Isaac references Alice in Wonderland or The Fellowship of the Ring, the nerd in me is so excited.

The storyline here was a bit stronger than in book one and Hines opened up some interesting doors that will allow further exploration of this magic.  The discussion of physical books versus e-readers and how that affects libriomancers will speak to all readers.  Is the power in the actual physical pages or can it be held in this electronic device?

Another thing that’s special about Codex Born is the love story between Isaac and Lena / Nidhi and Lena.  It makes you think about love, attraction and what constitutes a successful relationship.  Reading Lena’s thoughts on attraction was thought-provoking.  (By the way, I loved the addition of her “journal” as part of the story.  It helped us get to know and understand her so much better.) I wish I could quote the entire start of Chapter 17 but I will leave you with this —

“Humans are so obsessed with true love, the perfect relationship.  They imagine that one elusive person who fits their quirks and foibles and desires like a puzzle piece.  And of course, when a potential mate falls short of that perfection, they reject them.  They were too old, too young, too silly, too serious, too fat, too thin.  They liked the wrong TV shows.  They hated chocolate.  They voted for the other guy.  They didn’t put the toilet seat down.

They invent a million excuses for rejection, a million ways to find others unattractive.  Their skill at seeing ugliness in others is matched only by their ability to see it in the mirror, to punish themselves for every imagined flaw.  ….

I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t beautiful.  People have simply forgotten how to see.  …

The more we narrow the definition of beauty, the more beauty we shut out of our lives.”

4/5 stars and highly recommended.

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