Easton Livingston's Reality Imagination

Book Review: X-Men Chaos Engine: Magneto

It took me some time to get through this particular novel just because of life and being busy doing other things. But as I took the time to really sit down and begin to enjoy the novel, I found that it was a good story in the continuing series.

Being a writer, I look at stories in a  different way from the average reader. Reading other people’s fiction is training and research for me. It forces me to think about stories in a very different way. Therefore, there are some picky things that wouldn’t matter much to the average reader but matters to me and because of that, it affects my enjoyment. So that factors into my evaluation of the book. 

I say this understanding it will not be an issue for the majority of readers out there so you should take this with a grain of salt. But I will be looking at the overall story itself as well. I’m just a nitpicker when it comes to crafting.

Let’s start off with the basics of where the story picks up. 

The last book centered on Doctor Doom being the main character who had created a Cosmic Cube that allowed him to create the world in his own image. He was the grand emperor on planet Earth. The only one able to resist his rule was none other than Magneto. The Cosmic Cube had altered the memories in the history of everyone on the planet. Some of those were the X-Men. But not all.

Some of the other X-Men were not in the dimension at the time and so they weren’t affected by his reality-altering act. Therefore they tried to come back to set things straight because the Cosmic Cube was spreading a type of “reality cancer” which was infecting the multiverse. Those who had the responsibility of watching over the universe (Roma and Saturnyne) were faced with the dilemma of destroying that dimension. But Charles Xavier convinced them that his X -Men could solve the problem.

In the second book, Magneto is the one who has acquired the flawed Cosmic Cube and has now recreated the world in his image. It is not the world you would have expected from him which was a refreshing twist.

My writer’s brain doesn’t shut off when I’m reading. One of the things in this book that was extraneous to me was the use of adverbs. As I’ve grown as a writer, I’ve come to the conclusion that adverbs should come few and far between within a novel. It’s one of those writer pet-peeves of mine which means I agree with Stephen King (one of the few things I agree with him on) when he says, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs”. As a writer, they should be used as little as possible and adjectives should be used in their place to add more color to the story. To me, it’s a sign of lazy writing. If you look at some of the “classics” (subjective as all get out), you’ll find they use adverbs in small doses.

There really is nothing wrong with using a thesaurus (this is where me and Stephen King part ways). This is truer if it’s being used to replace an adverb. The overuse of adverbs in this book distracted me. Granted, it wouldn’t be distracting to the average reader at all but for me, it was. That kind of distraction took away from the enjoyment of the book. As I said, I can’t turn off my writer’s brain when I read and I found myself rewriting many of the sentences with adverbs in them.

Another thing I noticed that again, wouldn’t be an issue with the average reader, was the passive writing style in many cases. If you don’t know what that is, it’s more of telling instead of showing. Again, this is my personal take on this and I like more of an active style than a passive one.

That being said, this didn’t affect the story as much as it affected my experience reading it.

As I was reading through, it became apparent to me that one of the main characters that Roman wanted to bring to the forefront was Betsy Braddock also known as Psylocke. I don’t know if this was a concerted effort to bring a female character to the forefront or not but I think there’s something wrong with trying to be politically correct in your writing instead of just writing the story and having it be about a particular character or particular group. The title of the book is X-Men and yet it’s one particular X-Man who is highlighted more than the others. This was also in Book 1. To me, it borders on strong-arming an agenda into the narrative instead of telling a story. 

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with having an agenda as a fiction writer. As I’ve said before, every writer is a preacher. It just shouldn’t detract from the story and this was close with what I felt was an inordinate focus on this character (and I love me some Psylocke).

All that being said, it wasn’t a horrible read. Not at all. Roman kept the story moving and even gave you a twist at the end which was cool. One thing I will say is that he appears to have a firm grasp of the X-Men during that time period in Marvel.

My knee-jerk review grade is to give this a C+. The writing itself is solid but the crafting needed work. However, I understand the dynamics of how these books were written and how they are treated. They’re not given a whole lot of love and the deadline is quick. Therefore, taking that into consideration, I’ll give it a final grade of B-/B.

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