Summary (courtesy of GoodReads): When two college freshmen decide to use Spring Break making magic on the gambling tables of Las Vegas, little do they imagine that Vegas harbours a dark magical secret of its own… the whole place is run by magic, and they won’t believe who’s in charge…
And here's what I thought: The tagline on the book cover reads: "It's Ocean's Eleven meets Harry Potter when two college students scam a Las Vegas casino - using Magic!" Exactly!!! Doesn't it sound like a cool story? I started this book and realized right away that I was in for a great (and fast) ride. The snappy back-and-forth dialogue pulled me in, and the action started and just kept ramping up.... and I was hooked. The cool thing about the story is that there's the up-front story of these two guys who are out to scam the casino, but there's another story running through the whole book, about family relationships. And just when you think you know what might happen next, everything flips and it changes (kind of like sitting at a blackjack table). There's also more than meets the eye with a number of the characters --- but I won't ruin any surprises here.
I enjoyed how Matt Forbeck worked magic into the story. There aren't any magic wands, and the magic isn't all sparkly, either. The way it's described, it actually not only makes sense, but sounds completely realistic and plausible. Jackson explains it this way: "Using your mojo is simply the conscious manipulation of the quantum state of things. By taking control of an altering probability, we can make things happen that seem magical, but every bit of the process can be explained with science." Sounds easy, right? Actually, not so much, as it turns out. Like a lot of things in Vegas, what you see isn't necessarily what you get, and there's always someone (or something) behind the scenes with their own agenda.
The writing is descriptive (I've been to Vegas twice, and after reading this, want to go back for a weekend), and funny. Example: "Not exactly Hogwarts, is it?" a brown-skinned man with slicked back hair said as he sidled up to us along the bar, a half-empty Corona in his hand.
"Maybe if Harry Potter had grown up reading Esquire or GQ," I said. (p. 155)
If you like books with a lot of action, quick dialogue, and a consistently fast pace, this is up your alley. If you're a fan of Harry Potter, I think you'll get a kick out of the story, although a love of magic isn't required to enjoy this read. And if you've enjoyed a trip to Vegas? Definitely pick this up. I had pre-ordered this book for my library, and now I'm just waiting until it gets here so I can get it in the hands of our patrons. Yes, yes, I'm a book pusher..... But this book was so much fun that I want lots of people to read it!
I thought it was weird timing that just when I finished this book, I saw this story on Chicago Sun-Times page --- apparently, there is a new "mob experience" in Vegas. (this will make sense if you read the book -- let me say no more.)
First sentences: "Luck is for losers."
I hated it when Bill said that I hated the tone, the words, the way it made me feel.
Thoughts on the cover: Completely perfect. I like how the Welcome to Las Vegas sign is modified with the book title, and how there's lightning coming down from the top.
Please note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher, in exchange for my honest review -- thus any quotes or page numbers may differ upon final publication.