The Magicians

Last month it was my turn to host our monthly book club and let me tell you, I’m really impressed with our little book club because we’ve managed to keep this commitment with one another each month (minus one or two because of the holidays and a wedding) even though we all have crazy and hectic schedules. It just makes my heart happy. But enough with gush. In keeping with tradition, since I hosted I was allowed to choose our book. As you can imagine, I took this responsibility very, very seriously and ended up picking Lev Grossman’s The Magicians.  I chose The Magicians for two reasons: 1) I wanted to lure my friends into reading a series with me that would require them to read multiple books and have many wonderful bookish discussions with me and 2) Someone once described the book to me as being a cross between Harry Potter and Catcher in the Rye, um yes! Not only are these both books that I love but it made The Magicians sound like a grown up gritty version of Harry Potter. Wonderful, right?! Apparently not, because wouldn’t you freaking 
know it, they hated it. No joke. Let’s delve a little deeper shall we?

GoodReads description:
Quentin Coldwater is brillant but miserable. He's a senior in high school, and a certifiable genius, but he's still secretly obsessed with a series of fantasy novels he read as a kid, about the adventures of five children in a magical land called Fillory. Compared to that, anything in his real life just seems gray and colorless.
Everything changes when Quentin finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the practice of modern sorcery. He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. But something is still missing. Magic doesn't bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he though it would.
Then, after graduation, he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real.
Da Da Daaaaa!!! So you have to admit that this sounds neat right? Reading the description it sounds like my life: Brilliant, check. Obsessed with fantasy novels, check. Feeling like graduating from law school isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, check. But then wait for it….Hogwarts is real! Could you just imagine?! I would die.
So you can see the appeal of the book. Unfortunately, I was kind of disappointed with it. See, I was hoping this novel would pull me into another world. Show me the magical world of Fillory and what not but alas, it was not to be. For me, since Grossman failed to adequately describe the world he envisioned the entire book felt rushed and undeveloped. I was left wanting more out of the book. It kind of reminded me of The Night Circus in that way, you know a good novel that need to be established a bit more to be truly amazing.
On the plus side, I loved how gritty parts of the novel were. Since we’re following college kids and graduates, there was a lack of childlike wonder that I appreciated. As a reader, I know that life isn’t all rainbows and fucking butterflies and I respect when fantasy novels embrace that.

Now onto my friends gripes, their largest one being Grossman has not one independent creative thought in his body. They all felt that The Magicians followed The Narnia Chronicles too closely. I, who have not read any of the Narnia books was ignorant of any similarities so it obviously didn’t bother me but after to listening to some of the comparisons I can see where they were going. I just wonder if, since  Quentin’s obsession is with the books of his childhood, if Grossman did have a similar obsession with The Narnia Chronicles and this was his way of paying tribute to the books he grew up on. Then again he may have just stolen some of the ideas.
Bottom line: Read it, it was good but don’t expect to fall into the book.
And onto the next . . . I finally decided to come back to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo series and recently finished The Girl Who Played With Fire.


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