86 of 92 people found the following review helpful
on July 8, 2005
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
As a Card fan for over 20 years, I always get his newest work as soon as the ink is dry. While I must say it's refreshing that he finally wrote a book that's not part of a series (at least I hope it's not), this novel struck me as a good idea that he labored at too long and tried too hard to button up. At times the dialogue is cheesy indeed, and I think he overdoes the attempts to make the sentences sound African-American, until it seems forced, as if he never wants the reader to forget that the characters are black.
Still, this is Card, and he keeps the story interesting enough to carry you through to the end--but I found myself hoping it would end sooner than it did. The character development was good as it usually is with Card, but the story was a bit slow getting started and overall it wasn't the usual "I can't put it down" kind of read I've come to expect from this author.
After turning the final page and closing the book, it all seemed just a bit offputting--like something was missing but I couldn't figure out what it was. Since I bought the book I'll leave it in my library, but I'm certainly in no rush to read it again soon.
45 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2005
I usually give Card a great deal of leeway that I don't give to other authors, because when he's good he's amazing. But when he's bad he's abysmal, and unfortunately Magic Street is a little too close to the "bad" end of the spectrum. I literally couldn't finish the book -- stopped about 2/3 of the way in, because I simply didn't care what happened to the main character anymore.
That was probably my biggest problem with the book. Mack Street is simply uninteresting. He's friendly but friendless, tough but ultimately apathetic, likable but somehow bland in personality. I think Card does a good job of depicting an intelligent young man with an imaginative, clever nature, who's dealing with some seriously weird stuff. But I think the problem is that Mack has no drive. There's not enough conflict in the story to bring out the full rich potential of his character. Mack is no Ender, driven to excel under impossible pressure, or Ansset, who overcomes soul-destroying hardships. Mack finds Fairyland and basically goes, "Huh. Guess I'll explore." He has no reason to do it, other than boredom and vague curiosity. Elsewhere in the book he learns that he has a terrible power that can and does hurt people, but it never seems to really bother him all that much. His sarcastic, devil-may-care attitude only exacerbates the problem: ultimately, Mack has no passion. He doesn't seem to care much about anything, so why should the reader?
On top of this, I was annoyed by the structure of the book. The first chapter or two could've been left out altogether, since the story didn't begin until baby Mack was found. We're three or four chapters in before we meet the main character in a form we can interact with and start "getting to know". We're half a book in before we meet the real antagonist; and by the time all the great mysteries are revealed... well, I got bored before I got that far.
I was also highly irritated by the dialogue. I'm black myself, but I'm not going to pretend I've heard every variant of "black English" in the US. Maybe this is the way black people talk in whatever regions Card has lived. But whatever the reason, I spent most of the book muttering to myself, "Who *talks* like this?!" It was just... off somehow. Used at the wrong times/circumstances, by the wrong characters of the wrong generations and in the wrong rhythm. Just wrong, period.
So this one is, unfortunately, a non-recommend.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2007
I like Orson Scott Card.. but when he starts talking about black people I just want to cringe. I'm still in the process of reading the book as it's just one of those you can't put down even if you try to. As a black person I wouldn't really recommend this book to anyone who doesn't truly understand the black culture as this might give someone an off representation about how it really is to be black. It seems like Card tried really hard to get his characters right and I think it was nice of him to try... I think he just tried too hard to address racial and age related issues. The actual story is pretty intriguing if you're able to get past everything else... Read it if you'd like, but just remember that these are characters and not real people. Honestly, black people don't really think about their color all the time. They only think of it when they're reminded of it.
40 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Depending what you like this may or may not be your favorite book by Orson Scott Card. Although I loved all of the Ender and Shadow novels best of all, I also loved the Sleeping Beauty retelling in Enchantment. Here OSC does for Shakespeare, what he did for Sleeping Beauty.
This is a slower building story than most of his work, but in the end very rewarding. If you enjoy fantasy with a modern twist this is a book for you. If you enjoy exploring motives and motivation of human nature, this is a book for you. As always love, honor and responsibility are the primary themes of this story. Definitely worth a read!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 2, 2005
This book definitely has a different feel than most Card books. The fantasy element is kind of similar to "Enchantment" but it goes another level or two deeper and weirder. Not that weird is bad, it's just different. I enjoyed it - it pulled me along to the end and made me think. I thought the African-American elements of the book were a little forced - almost as if there were parts of the book that Card just wanted to remind us "Remember this book is about African-Americans!", but it's not too distracting. Overall I would recommend it to all Card fans, but if you haven't read much Card, there are better places to start.
You can access the first five chapters of the book at hatrack dot com. That preview will give you a pretty good idea of what the book is like without having to buy it.
17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
I finally realized what I like about Card's writing - whether he's writing about Mack Street, Lovelock, or Ender Wiggin. Card's writing is so natural and smooth and clear that he can take you anywhere. His sentences are never clumsy and you just go along with the flow of his writing and his ideas and he takes you to places that logically make no sense. You go there because the verbal transitions are seamless.
Magic Street is the story of Mack Street, a child born magically and left abandoned in a paper bag. It is also the story of Ceese, a kid of prodigious intelligence who is trying to resist the lure of bad influences and succeeds by taking on an awesome responsibility. It is also the story of Word (Wordsworth) Williams, who is forced to forget something and spends the rest of his life trying to find the truth and later spread the word.
Finally, it is the story of how the desires and problems of a neighborhood interact and how the neighborhood finally bands together to confront those problems. Incidentally, the protagonists also discover a magical world and team up with Queen Mab to defeat the source of evil.
I hope I've been cryptic enough about the storyline so as not to spoil it for you, as this is a lovely book.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 6, 2006
At least Magic Street held my attention, but that's largely because I was only looking for vacation entertainment. This is not Card's best. I greatly admire his earlier work, particularly the "Ender" books. Magic Street does not begin to approach them.
The plot, though fantastical, has a very conventional shape to it, with a predictable battle between good and evil forces at the end. But the biggest disappointment is in the characters. I found them neither well formed or believable. Most were simply too good to be true. Perhaps that's the trouble with explicitly setting out to write a novel featuring heroic black men (as Card says he did). Maybe you try too hard to make that point and end up with no nuances. I would have preferred some complexity.
On the other hand, it's a fairytale, so maybe complexity is too much to ask.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 16, 2008
Format: Kindle Edition
I've read and enjoyed just about everything Orson Scott Card has written; however, this book falls far short of his usual riveting storytelling. I found myself looking forward to the end of the book, rather than wanting it to continue on forever like the Ender Series.
His attempted use of cultural lingo just seemed to be a bit off. Rather than pulling me into the story, it just made me sigh and wish for characters that spoke clearly.
I'll continue to buy and read his other works because he's still one of the most talented authors around, but rest assured I will not be buying any Magic Street sequel should he decide to pen one.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on February 19, 2006
Orson Scott Card is always interesting and smart in his writing. However, for some a reason I wasn't aware of at first, I didn't care about these characters as much as I usually do in Card's work. I momentarily thought that I might be having trouble relating to Black people, but my sister read it and felt let down a bit, too, and she's married to a Black man and has four children with him. She even tends to speak Black English Vernacular. (As a side note, she didn't complain about how the language was handled in the book. I suspect that people who criticize Card for his use of BEV simply aren't familiar with it). Well, I decided the reason I couldn't personally connect to the characters wasn't about race. I think it was just that I had trouble taking "fairies" seriously. The book tries to suggest that Shakespeare himself met "Puck" and "Titania" and wrote about fairies from real experiences. It never tells exactly where fairies came from or what they are, exactly. There is a decent attempt at making us believe that "fairies" could just be some other form of life and that magic is simply a natural part of existence. Card explains that WILL is more real than the world around us and that fairies can use the power of human will to shape matter. Well, this helped a bit. However, I couldn't seem to get past the word "fairy" and the story elements that involve it, so I felt a certain disconnect from the story.
However, other than that, the story is very good and has multiple layers to it. I really appreciated the concepts, the guts it took for Card to write about Black people, not being one himself, and the imagination that went into this. I may have enjoyed this less than any book of his I've read, but I still really liked it. If you feel you can accept the existence of fairies for long enough to finish the story, perhaps you will enjoy this more than I did. Even if you can't, I still recommend it. It's quite profound in some respects and very imaginative. I have to say also, that it may be somewhat groundbreaking, in that perhaps this is the only contemporary fantasy novel written exclusively about Black people. If it's not, it has to be the only one written by a major, best-selling author.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 12, 2005
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I own and have read all of Orson Scott Card's books with the exception of his recent poetry book. I've also purchased and given away approximately 8 copies of Ender's Game because it's my favorite book and I love to share it.
I bought this book because I buy ALL of Card's books, but for the first time I was a bit disappointed. The story left me feeling like "what the crap is going on?!" several times, but it never really got me involved in the characters.
The main character, Mack Street, doesn't evoke empathy or sympathy because he is somewhat of a supernatural/otherworldly figure, so it's hard to get in his head. The other main story characters, Puck and Mab, are so impish and full of mischief that you can never believe what they are saying. Are they really who they say they are? Are they trying to help Mack, or trick him? I wasn't sure of their motives, so I felt 'uneasy' throughout the book, but not in a good way.
Anyway, I finished Magic Street and it was interesting and worth reading, but I suggest reading Ender's Game or Pastwatch or Enchantment if you want an introduction to Card's work. They are much more 'normal' books.