Tuesday, March 6, 2012

“For just one second, look at your life and see how perfect it is. Stop looking for the next secret door that is going to lead you to your real life. Stop waiting. This is it: there's nothing else. It's here, and you'd better decide to enjoy it or you're going to be miserable wherever you go, for the rest of your life, forever.”

The Magicians – Lev Grossman

402 pages

Genre:  Fantasy; Contemporary; Adventure
Summary:  Quentin, a super smart, college bound teenage boy, isn’t all that happy with his life.  He’s rather bored by just about everything, and longs for something more than the pre-determined, “don’t rock the boat” track his life seems to be set on.  While things are bleak, Quentin is able to escape within the pages of his favorite book series that chronicles the characters’ adventures in Fillory, a magical, made up land.  When strange things start happening in Quentin’s life, however, and he ends up in a place that he never could have even dreamed of, will he discover that what he thought was make believe may actually hold some truth?

Review:  Numerous people recommended The Magicians to me, so I went in with pretty high expectations.  While I enjoyed reading most of the book, it honestly struck me as mediocre at best; I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either.

The biggest thing that irked me about this book was the pacing.  Inordinate amounts of time were spent in some of the years at the school, while others passed by in the blink of an eye.  Condensing many years into just a few hundred pages didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me, and I felt like I would have enjoyed this much more if the world Grossman created was examined further.  Perhaps my expectations were too high because I was comparing it to Harry Potter in my mind the entire time (the similarities between the two can’t be missed), but alas, I was unsatisfied.

While I didn’t like how condensed the book seemed given the subject matter, the world Grossman created was really unique and interesting.  The Magicians really had that “fell down the rabbit hole” effect, and when the landscape changed, I was hooked.  Additionally, I liked the focus on types of magic and how that was what distinguished students in the school, and the things certain people were able to do were really astonishing.

As far as the protagonist goes, I wasn’t a huge fan of Quentin.  It is definitely possible that I would have enjoyed this book more had it been told from a different character’s perspective, but Quentin didn’t do much for me.  In fact, I wanted to punch him in the face most of the time.

If nothing else, The Magicians was definitely an entertaining read.  If you enjoy books full of fantasy and magic, and you’d like something a bit more grown up than Harry Potter, you may really enjoy this book.

Rating:  3/5
Read-AlikesHarry Potter series – J.K. Rowling, The Chronicles of Narnia – C. S. Lewis