The Black Prism - Brent Weeks My first Brent Weeks novel and I have to say it wasn't really what I expected. The Black Prism wasn't a bad book by any means, but there were still several things about it that kept me from getting into it completely.

First of all, the magic system. Based on chromaturgy, it's one of the more interesting and unique magic systems I've ever encountered in fantasy novels. The people who can harness light, called drafters, can create a substance from it called luxin which can take on different colors of their spectrum. Each color has unique properties, like blue is hard and strong, green is flexible and springy, orange is slick and slippery etc, so drafters can create many different things out of luxin.

As unique as this system is, it was also very difficult for me to visualize. I can't help but picture these luxin constructions as pieces of plastic, transparent and looking quite tacky in this world. When I read about the tall buildings made of luxin in the Chromeria city and the characters walking around in it, all I could think about was those colorful plastic hamster cages you can buy at petstores with all those tubes you can add to it to make it a funhouse. It's not the book, it's me. But that kinda ruined the effect it was going for, to say the least.

I also didn't really like the way Weeks jumped from point-of-view to point-of-view at the beginning of the novel. I'm normally okay with authors switching between characters, but he did it in a distracting way, sometimes cutting off chapters right in the middle of a scene in a way that doesn't really make sense to me. To illustrate how I felt, it was like watching someone start to take a jump, then having the scene change mid-jump to follow the actions of another character, only to return after a while to the original character to watch them land. It didn't happen to me so much near the end, but usually pacing at the beginning of a novel is critical for me, and so that took a bit away from my initial enjoyment.

What ultimately kept me from being being truly absorbed into the story, however, was the difficult time I had trying to connect to the characters. For one, I just don't understand Kip at all. I know he's supposed to be an awkward boy, given his life and what happens to him in the novel, but I felt uncomfortable about him on a whole other level. His awkwardness felt forced and superficial; one moment he's scared and meek, and another he's full of sass and sarcasm. I get how that whole saying-the-wrong-thing-at-the-wrong-time is supposed to work for him, but unfortunately that always seems to come at the most inopportune times in the novel in a way I don't think was intended. Several times I felt myself getting really into the action and events of the book, only to have that atmosphere completely shattered by something totally inappropriate Kip says to try to be funny...and fails.

The other characters are a little bit better, even though I noticed Weeks has a habit of making everyone "grin" a lot -- a habit I've notice from several other authors, which can get really maddening. I like Gavin and am intrigued by what his big secret will mean for his character and his future. Liv was another character that I wish had had more depth, but by the end of the novel she had chosen a path I didn't expect so I'm looking forward to see how things turn out for her. Kariss has some secrets herself, and I'm interested in where those will lead.