Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Actual rating 3.5-stars
This book was without a doubt entertaining and it was enjoyable to read but in really did have a sever lack of originality. Think Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire mated with The Hunger Games good times, right? So, based on a World Trade Center plot device that was totally unneeded I would guess that this book takes place in the very near future, like 2024ish. A time that is so far in the future teenagers will no longer understand Star Trek references, apparently. I digress. Anyway so the world is made up of Dulls (aka Muggles), Mages (magical folk who mostly have entitlement issues), dampened magical folk (people who had magic but then were deemed too inferior to hang with the mages, were denied entry in magical university, and then had most of their magic forcibly stripped away from them.), then there's burn outs (people who previously had magic and tried to fight against 'The Man' which is actually 9 people and the Confederacy which they totally control who are basically deatheaters but still mostly on the DL we'll get back to that in a minute.) Now to further break things down Muggles (sorry, Dulls) and the various magical folk know of each other and live in the same universe. The Mages had an "unveiling" at some point in recent history and basically announced they were ready to become magical superheroes for the world. Inexplicably magic is spreading and magical kids are being born to muggles and the old school mages don't like it but the Muggles don't like the magical people so they're screwed all over the place. Magical kids are allowed into magical academies if they can afford tuition and their community has enough of a magical population to need one otherwise you just get a magical tutor which apparently is not helpful. So like normal kids the time comes when you find out whether you get into university only there's only one University and acceptance is like super corrupted. Basically kids who belong to magical aristocracy have an easy in and new magic from lower classes are undesirable. On the other hand if you aren't accepted you can compete in competitive trials and try to win your way in… supposedly. Also people have a tendency to die or simply not return from these trials and others appear to be brainwashed by the confederacy and others if they manage to survive long enough to bail out of the trials just get all of their magic burnt out of them. Shortly after the games begin everyone learns they're basically competing in the hunger games but the crazy gov't running everything is nice in the fact that they allow more than one person to live. Oh yeah these trials take place of bloody Riker's Island which in and of itself says something. Muggles and their prisoners no longer inhabit the island but still not a place that channels good vibes to all. This book is clearly the first in what I assume will at least be a trilogy.
What this story lacked in originality was made up for by the fact that it was still a fun and engaging story I was able to connect with the main characters who acted as narrators if not so much with side characters. There were parts of the world building that I felt were left gaping wide when they needed more explanation. Like why would magical folks simply go along with this "dampening" ritual. There are groups of magical terrorists (although we'll probably find out they're actually insurgents) but I was kind of left wondering why people would just go along with what was so very obviously a rigged system. There were also characters who were very predictable but *shrug* they didn't kill the story by any means they simply ended up being what I expected them to be. Anyway if a stories of social injustice, magic, and super scary obstacle courses are your thing then you should try this book out. I would definitely be willing to read follow up to this book I just hope the story gets more unique as it goes.
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