Review of Mage Against the Machine

December 20, 2018 Reviews 0 ★★★½

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, profanity, and/or violence.
Review of Mage Against the MachineMage Against the Machine by Shaun Barger
Published by Simon & Schuster Audio on October 30, 2018
Length: 15:37
Genres: Fantasy
Format: Audiobook
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three-half-stars

Harry Potter meets The Terminator in this action-packed adventure about a young man who discovers that everything he believed about his world is a lie.

The year is 2120. The humans are dead. The mages have retreated from the world after a madman blew up civilization with weaponized magical technology. Safe within domes that protect them from the nuclear wasteland on the other side, the mages have spent the last century putting their lives back together.

Nikolai is obsessed with artifacts from twentieth-century human life: mage-crafted replica Chuck Taylors on his feet, Schwarzenegger posters on his walls, Beatlemania still alive and well in his head. But he’s also tasked with a higher calling—to maintain the Veils that protect mage-kind from the hazards of the wastes beyond. As a cadet in the Mage King’s army, Nik has finally found what he always wanted—a purpose. But when confronted by one of his former instructors gone rogue, Nik tumbles into a dark secret. The humans weren’t nuked into oblivion—they’re still alive. Not only that, outside the domes a war rages between the last enclaves of free humans and vast machine intelligences.

Outside the dome, unprepared and on the run, Nik finds Jem. Jem is a Runner for the Human Resistance. A ballerina-turned-soldier by the circumstances of war, Jem is more than just a human—her cybernetic enhancement mods make her faster, smarter, and are the only things that give her a fighting chance against the artificial beings bent on humanity’s eradication.

Now Nik faces an impossible decision: side with the mages and let humanity die out? Or stand with Jem and the humans—and risk endangering everything he knows and loves?

This was a really novel concept and plot that I thoroughly enjoyed. Part science fiction/dystopia, and part fantasy. The two main characters are in different worlds but ultimately those collide. The world building was really great, several of the characters were well developed and strong, and the plot never really slowed down.

However, the main character Nikolae is deeply flawed and ends up being unlikable during a good portion of the book. It might be more endurable if he didn’t constantly second guess and whine about his own decisions. He spent a good portion of the book blaming others for his own actions. Secondly, the book is laced with a ton of profanity. Thirdly, the female narrator is a bit uneven, often devolving into a baby voice for what was supposed to be a really tough woman. And all the voices sounded the same. For the male narration, there is some issue with the recording where it will often jump in volume for a few seconds and sound like it was recorded differently.

Overall, I would have given the novel a much higher rating if the narration and recording had been top notch, and the author didn’t resort so much to emo-Nicolae. But in the end, the story was very enjoyable and I’m looking forward to seeing if the series is continued.

three-half-stars
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