Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Title: The Magicians by Lev Grossman

Pages: 416.

How it was obtained: Bought it on my kindle.

Time spent on the "to read" shelf: 0 days.

Days spent reading it: 3 days.

Why I read it: I saw this book recommended on Amazon as a selection for the best of the month. The description sounded interesting, so I checked it out.

Brief review: I had just finished a string of great books, and was looking for a great follow up. Sadly The Magicians let me down. After a very promising introductory section, this book never quite lived up to the potential I thought it had. Our main protagonist in this story is Quentin. He is smart, obsessive, and one day he finds out he can do real magic. He is brought into a secret school and taught how to use his power in the real world. In Grossman's world, magic is difficult to learn. It takes practice, obsessive practice, to learn even the most elementary of spells. I thought his system was interesting.

The book is well written, and the plot is acceptable. My problem with the book comes in the form of the characters and the setting. The characters are just too depressing for words. All of the anxiety and depression and escape mechanisms of the Millennial Generation seem to be focused in a handful of characters in this book. There is just a touch of redeeming value in some of the main characters as the book comes to a close, but it seems like too little too late for me.

My other problem is that a large part of the book is set in finding, or exploring a world called Fillory. Fillory is obviously based on Lewis' Narnia. And so blatantly it was actually distracting to me. Maybe Grossman really loved Lewis's works and wanted to revisit them in his own writings, but it seemed a little odd to me.

I liked this book, I did not love it. I felt there was a lot of potential, but it was squandered on making me feel depressed by the character's lack of good judgment and decency.

Favorite quote: "He had reached the outer limits of what Fun, capital F, could do for him. The cost was way too high, the returns pitifully inadequate. His mind was dimly awakening, too late, to other things that were as important, or even more so."

Stars: 3 out of 5.

Final Word: Depressing.

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