Unfortunately, Hard Magic doesn't measure up to Correia's first series, Monster Hunters International. One reviewer hit it on the head when he noted that there is a lack of world building, and tossed-in 1920s vocabulary is supposed to stand for setting. There's more detail on guns then there are physical characteristics of setting and mood, critical elements of the detective noir. There's a lot of odd ethnic referrals going on as well that make me vaguely uncomfortable. I don't know a lot about the 20s, but it almost seems if Correia is pulling on American political attitudes from the 40s-50s(post WWII) in his characterizations of Germans and Japanese and the political divisions. I get the feeling he didn't research the 1920s for this book--more like he watched a couple of Al Capone movies.I loved Faye, the grey-eyed talented Okie kid who grows into her power, but I think I loved her because I root for grrl-power, and not because the characterization was done particularly well. Her simplistic speech pattern when we are inside her head need finesse as she progresses through her development. As usual, females play the "almost-but-not-quite-equal" role, despite the actions of Faye. One's a healer and one's a ex-prostitute (I believe there's an ex-ho in Monster as well), so you can pretty much tell from there how their characterization is going to run. Yes, I get that Faye saved the day. However, she does so with a sense of glee and with her uneducated speech/text, and she's still technically a juvenile, so she's not equal or sophisticated enough to rank with the male leaders. Her end scene with the jellyfish might negate my assessment, but that section is a little to weird to analyze). You can tell Correia put a lot of thought into the development of his Heavy, Sullivan. I love the idea of the book, and the fascinating idea of "powers" branching out into "adjacent" areas with practice.He is also taking the narrative short-cut of the almost-omniscient narrator, and flipping between a number of protagonists and antagonists. Despite the shift in narrators, there is one character "surprise" and a mediocre plot twist based on character premeditated plans in the last few pages of the book. It's a technique that irks me to no end for two reasons: one, because it feels like it's substituting character sketches for a congruent storyline; and two, it smacks of poor characterization--shouldn't we already be aware of their goals if we are in the characters' minds? Alright, so it's not the most positive of reviews, but you can see so many 5 and 4 star reviews, I don't really need to re-iterate what's good, do I?