Narrator: MacLeod Andrews
Series: Texas Reckoners (#1)
Runtime: 13hrs 56mins
Release Date: 22/07/2021
The day his brother died, Jax swore an oath to destroy the Epics – the superpowered villains who now rule the world. Throwing himself in with a resistance group called the Reckoners, he trains as an assassin. His first target: the flying city of Lux . . .
Lux brings us back to the world of Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners trilogy (the novels Steelheart, Firefight, and Calamity, and the novella Mitosis), and takes place concurrently with those books. As the series title suggests, this one focuses on a group of Reckoners operating in Texas, a fact reinforced by a lot of strong accents. You don’t need to have read the previous trilogy to enjoy this one, though it will of course provide some context. There are characters who cross over playing minor roles here, and the events of Mitosis and Calamity both influence key moments. But I think Lux stands well enough on its own, with its own cast of heroes and villains, and a localised plot.
At nearly fourteen hours, Lux is pushing the limit of my enthusiasm for the audio format. The book is split into three arcs, and by the end of the first act I had put the book on 2x speed. Andrews is clear enough as a narrator that this doesn’t distort his words, he simply suffers from a problem I have with the majority of audio readers in that he is far too deliberate in his pacing. I’m a quick reader, and that affects a lot of my views on pacing. It’s odd, because the story itself is as quickly paced as I’ve come to expect from Brandon Sanderson’s YA offerings.
Though I’m not a fan of his overall narration, I will say this for MacLeod Andrews: he does a fantastic job of keeping characters distinct. Whether through accents, intonation, or general speech pattern, I never had any doubt as to who was speaking. When you’re dealing with a squad of heroes and a single narrator, this is really helpful. And even if Wade’s Texan accent is perhaps comically strong, it adds to the character in a way pure text could never convey.
As for the book itself, it’s a fairly standard piece of YA superhero fiction, with the caveat that the superheroes are in fact villains. If you like The Boys, but want something a little toned down, Lux is worth a look. Fair warning though, the book can be a little predictable at times. When a dozen chapters are spent introducing a character, are we really to believe they will be killed off-screen? There are also a few coincidences that tug at my suspension of disbelief, but I can’t really go into those without spoilers. I’ll leave it with this thought: ‘What are the chances of running into her again, here of all places?’
The majority of this book is told in the first person by Jax, and while he can be annoying at times, his viewpoint does provide a unique lens through which we see the world. However, there are multiple chapters told in third person which focus on other characters. These are some of my favourite parts of the book, in particular those dealing with the Epic Lifeforce, the book’s primary villain. These hint at a bloodier and nastier world than the main story offers, and are the best acted in the book. But the switching between first and third person is jarring, and I’d rather Sanderson and Bohls had settled one way or the other. As with all joint efforts, I’m left wondering who wrote what, and whether the split in perspective shows the answer to that riddle.
Lux is a far cry from my favourite Sanderson work, and while some of that is due to the audio format, I’m less than convinced a print version would fare any better. Nevertheless, it’s always good to see an author branching out, and with Bohls’ involvement we have the first real hints of where the Mainframe Audio line will go next.