Review: The Magicians

The Magicians
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked up this book by the title alone. I had no idea what it was about or what to expect. Hadn’t read the blurb on the back.

By page 23, I was talking out loud to myself, saying “I love this book. I love this book!” I want to press it in to certain people’s hands, I want them to read it, so we can exclaim and share it and be happy all over again.

I like Quentin. I love how his adventure starts, how you think ‘oh no, a Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe wannabe,’ and then, it isn’t that.

If you waited for your Hogwarts letter and grew progressively despondent as the hours of your 11th birthday ticked by, rejoice! In America, it’s college. You’ll be recruited when you’re 17.

I love how Grossman puts together a sentence and what he chooses to say.

This is a lose-track-of-time-be-late-for-work book.

p.1 “Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed.”

p.22 “The room filled with a collective rustling of paper, like a flock of birds taking off. Quentin recognized this motion. It was the motion of a bunch of high-powered type-A test killers getting down to their bloody work.”

p.24 grapefruit soda

p.26 “As a matter of fact, Quentin did like magic tricks. His interest in magic had started three years ago, partly inspired by his reading habits but mostly as a way of fattening up his extracurriculars with an activity that wouldn’t force him to interact with people.”

P.41 “he was experimenting cautiously with the idea of being happy.”

p.44 “You’ll be dealing with your equals for the first time in your life, and your betters. You won’t like it.”

So, I understand why so many people are mad at this book, why it received so many angry reviews. Part one is upbeat, enthusiastic, accelerating. The middle of the book has one spiky crescendo moment, when Quentin conjures up the omnivorous man with the branch obscuring his face (from an alternate dimension). Something awful happens, and the reader (and Quentin) are left with no follow up. There’s some boring coasting in this section. When this kind of thing happens to Ged in Earthsea, it sets in motion the quest that powers his entire meaningful life. Not in the Magicians. Quentin and his friends are aimless, gormless, and they drink too much. They don’t value what they have until it’s almost too late, or it overwhelms them.

But

Grossman makes 2 awesome points here. One for the real world: You have to do something with your life. Two, for the readers and dreamers: Can you imagine living agelessly as a king in your favorite fantasy realm – forever? It would have to warp you, hideously. (Really, man it would.)

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