Monday, November 7, 2011

Book Review: The Magicians

Title: The Magicians
Author: Lev Grossman
Stars: 4
Less-Than-500-Word Review in Short: Through Quentin, chase your childhood dream of magical fulfillment in this profound, nitty-gritty grown-up fantasy.

Back-of-the-Book: “Intellectually precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater escapes the boredom of his daily life by reading and re-reading a series of beloved fantasy novels set in an enchanted land called Fillory. Like everybody else, he assumes that magic isn’t real — until he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in Upstate New York.

After stumbling through a Brooklyn alley in winter, Quentin finds himself on the grounds of the idyllic Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy in late summer. There, after passing a gruesomely difficult entrance examination, he begins a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery, while also discovering the joys of college: friendship, love, sex and booze. But something is missing. Even though Quentin learns to cast spells and transform into animals, and gains power he never dreamed of, magic doesn’t bring him the happiness and adventure he thought it would.

After graduation, he and his friends embark on an aimless, hedonistic life in Manattan, struggling with the existential crises that plague pampered and idle young sorcerers. Until they make a stunning discovery that propels them on a remarkable jouney, one that promises to finally fulfill Quentin’s yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than Quentin could have imagined. His childhood dream is a nightmare with a shocking truth at its heart.”

I Say:
I had high hopes for this book. Halfway through, I resigned myself to the fact that it wasn’t gonna be what I anticipated. A hundred pages later, I realized it might be more. I expected “Magicians” to be predictable, fantastical and full of dark, romantic secrets.

It is none of the above. It’s “Harry Potter” meets “The Chronicles of Narnia” slapped with a big ol’ reality check. If magic were real, this is what it would be like. None of this wand action, none of this simple spells you can just spout off.

The Magicians is one of a kind. It’s bold. It’s uncomfortable. It’s mildly depressing. It’s brutally realistic. It’s the nitty-grittiest fantasy book I’ve ever read. I was completely blown away, shocked. Grossman takes the universal search for happiness and tells it like it is.

“Magicians” isn’t the story of Quentin Coldwater. It’s the story of each and every person who has wished for magic to be real. If you’re like me, you’ve, at some point, promised every greater being there is that if magic could JUST BE REAL, you’d be happy.

With “Magicians,” I vicariously achieved that wish and followed it all the freaking way to the end. And that pot of gold isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I Liked:
- Moral
- Pacing {takes place over years}

I Didn’t Like:
- Language

Audience: DEFINITELY not a kids’ book. Honestly, it’s rated R. The language is terrible, there’s a TON of sexual material, and frankly, if you haven’t lived at least a little while, it will bore you to tears.


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