The Magicians, not so magical.

Posted: January 8, 2012 in 100000 challenge
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As stated in my last post, I had a busy month at work due to doing not only my job but my co-workers, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t reading. In fact I’ve read quite a few books, and have some reviews backlogged that I need to get written up and posted. I’ll be starting with the first book I mentioned, The Magicians by Lev Grossman.

The Magicians is a book I wanted to love. It’s about a kid who shows an exceptional gift for magic and gets to go to a special magical school. Now don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go in expecting Harry Potter which is what this book sounds like when I describe it as that. In fact, some other reviews I read of this before picking it up warned me that this was not a ‘children’s book’ and was written for a mature audience. Never mind the fact that the Harry Potter series stopped being a ‘children’s book’ after Prisoner of Azkaban… I went in with an open mind. What I got was a world that was underdeveloped and characters that I didn’t like much less love. It was an amalgamation of other author’s ideas that were not executed well. Putting all that aside, I was just bored by the book… because I tried my hardest not to draw comparisons to these other worlds as I read.

The initial chapters drew me in… our protagonist Quentin gets invited to a magical school, we spend a third of the book covering his many years there, and I still didn’t develop a proper understanding of the different specialties the characters could learn and how the magic worked (No wand waving, just funny hand gestures and speaking gibberish). We get glimpses of the dark side of this magic and then our protagonist graduates. This whole portion of the story was rushed. If it had been me, I would have flushed this out in more detail THEN moved on to the other two parts of the story… probably as other books. I wanted more and didn’t get it, I got two more parts to a story that I didn’t want, didn’t like and found to be ridiculous… and not just because they borrow heavily from other ‘fantasy’ stories. I didn’t develop a relationship with the protagonist where I WANTED to know what happened to him, in fact I didn’t really care one way or another. Apathy is NOT what you should feel when reading a story.

Part two of the story was like a bad drama on the CW. (GOSSIP GIRL I’M LOOKING AT YOU). The kids all graduate and go to live out their lives in NYC. They use drugs and party and don’t really study or use their magic. They are adrift. Is this the best way to show that they are adrift? By glamourizing drug use and partying and making the characters so irritating you can’t find any redeeming qualities in them? CHUCKBASSANYONE?

Segue to part 3.  A different magician that Quentin and crew never got along with in school appears and reveals that he’s found a magical portal that lets him go to other lands. He wants everyone to go with him to explore so we go jumping through puddles a la The Chronicles of Narina. Are you confused yet? That would make two of us. Why is this necessary, what is the point? Big, dark and nasty magic happens in Narnia, the book ends, is anticlimactic and YET there is a sequel being written to pick up where the story left off… they’re going back to Narnia (okay, they call it Fillory but the Narnia movies were on TV today).

The protagonist is time and again given everything he wants and still he’s unhappy with his lot in life. In my opinion he has no one to blame but himself. That being said, I don’t think I would recommend this book to you all. I did read the excerpt from the new book, and it ALMOST makes me want to pick up the sequel when it’s released (it actually could be released by now, I’m not sure). I doubt I will though, this book was a chore to finish and I don’t want to be sucked into yet another book that was painful to get through. I love fantasy, I love fiction, I love magic and I love coming of age stories but I can’t understand why this book got such rave reviews. I didn’t love or loathe Quentin, I didn’t care about him at all, and that is probably the worst thing about this story.

Page Count: 416/100,000

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