Title: The Cypher
Author: Julian Rosado-Machain
Series: Guardians Inc. #1
Thomas is living with his grandfather after his parents disappeared. There’s a lot to get used to—but he never expected helping his grandfather search for a job would land them both jobs at the mysterious Guardians, Inc. Or what that job would entail. Guardians, Inc. harbors secrets of magic and technology, and are committed to finding a mysterious book that could help them shape the next five hundred years. But others are searching for the book as well . . .
This was a pretty solid book. Thomas is pressing through a life turned upside-down when everything goes sideways yet again with an unexpected job offer. I liked the worldbuilding, which has a variety of mythological creatures running around the modern world (or trying to leave well enough alone, as the case may be), and the way Thomas is introduced to it. I liked the abilities of a Cypher, and how it comes with some interesting limitations (only written words, not spoken, was a fun twist). And the plot doesn’t drag but keeps things fresh with a new wrinkle pretty well every chapter.
Thomas felt a little young to me. I kept expecting him to be twelve instead of sixteen, which made the scenes of him crushing on a girl feel a bit strange. I’m also not generally a fan of this type of crush, which short-circuits someone’s brain (even though there are several hints this is being encouraged by magic, it’s still not a plot device I like). I did like Thomas’s relationship with his grandfather. It’s nice to see how they both support each other, even though they don’t always agree.
Tony rubbed me the wrong way. For a special agent that’s supposedly as well-trained as he is, he acts like a big kid. I spent most of the book suspecting him as a spy or a plant (and I still don’t know if that might end up being true) because he’s not very professional most of the time.
Overall, though, it was still a fun read. The book ends in a way that basically sets up a series to come, so it’s more about introducing the world and the quest than providing much resolution. I rate this book Recommended.