mark’s review of The Magician King (The Magicians #2) > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Maciek (new)

Maciek I disliked the first one intensely, mostly because of the whining and unlikable protagonist.

message 2: by mark (new)

mark monday i liked and disliked the first one, in equal measures. this is more of the same.

message 3: by Maciek (new)

Maciek I guess I won't be reading it, then. Though the perspective of writing a trashy review is so tempting!

message 4: by mark (new)

mark monday i tried to make my review half thumbs-up, half thumbs-down. a perfect 3-star novel!

message 5: by Maciek (new)

Maciek And you did! Very good review.

message 6: by mark (new)

mark monday thanks!

message 7: by B0nnie (new)

B0nnie you're spot on when it comes to a certain smugness that often creeps into contemporary fiction - it can ruin an otherwise great read - & you cannot decide if you ought to throw the book out the window, throw the book out the window but tell passers-by that they must read it or maybe just throw yourself out the window while still reading it

message 8: by mark (new)

mark monday i'm happy to say that i don't experience this a lot, because i'm not a big reader of contemporary fiction. it's in the mix for me, but it is not predominate.

but i definitely noticed what you are describing when reading Zone One. an excellent book - but one filled to the brim with a certain kind of intellectual smugness.

message 9: by Francine (new)

Francine I had been contemplating reading the first book in this series but read some other reviews that gave me pause. I may still give it a shot one day. I think you're a much kinder reviewer than I am (yesterday, for instance, someone read one of my reviews and questioned why I continued to read things I obviously disliked). You tend to still see the good things in some works (e.g. Zone One's lyrical beauty).

message 10: by mark (new)

mark monday it's true, i do tend to be a glass-half-full kinda guy. i usually find something to enjoy & appreciate in most books. as well as to criticize. just like with actual people!

honestly Francine, i don't think you will care for this one. particularly given your feelings about Zone One. the two books are completely different in style from each other (and subject matter as well, of course)... but they both share that intellectual smugness and pretension that you found deadly in Zone One.

message 11: by Francine (new)

Francine Deadly like zombies? ;-)

In all seriousness, I did appreciate the inherent beauty of Whitehead's writing; I just had to be in the right frame of mind (I wouldn't have appreciated your review otherwise). I guess I was just in the mood for some blood-pumping, visceral, gratuitous chomping.

message 12: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent My favorite part of this is Grossman's magic system, specifically how the magicians are like hackers.

message 13: by mark (new)

mark monday i had a lot of favorite parts here and there, but right now my favorite part to recall is the sight of Julia in battle mode, taller & bigger & silvery & black-eyed & kicking ass.

message 14: by Dan (new)

Dan Schwent mark wrote: "i had a lot of favorite parts here and there, but right now my favorite part to recall is the sight of Julia in battle mode, taller & bigger & silvery & black-eyed & kicking ass."

I'm hoping there will be more Julia in the third book. I could see Quentin joining the Order as a way to get back to Fillory.

 Danielle The Book Huntress (Self-Proclaimed Book Ninja) I had similar feelings about the first book, so your review resonates with me, mark. I'll catch this one in paperback, or if the audiobook comes to the library. Thanks!

message 16: by mark (new)

mark monday my pleasure, LD!

message 17: by mark (new)

mark monday Dan wrote: "I'm hoping there will be more Julia in the third book. I could see Quentin joining the Order as a way to get back to Fillory."

i hope that happens! that would mean more of my favorite character Penny.

message 18: by Mark (new)

Mark Love the review and its title

The Continuing Adventures of a Smug Magical Asshole

this just drew me in.

message 19: by mark (new)

mark monday thanks Mark! got to keep it punchy, you know.

message 20: by Matt (new)

Matt "in short, this novel lacks SINCERITY."

That word. I don't think it means what you think it means. I think you might be looking for words like gravitas, maturity, solemnity, and so forth. But it's very possible to be both flippant and honest. I think you need to consider the possibility that all this snark and cynacism is Grossman's sincere view of the world.

message 21: by mark (new)

mark monday that's an excellent and very interesting point, Matt. i'm not sure i agree, but your last sentence is definitely something for me to consider.

message 22: by Taylor (new)

Taylor Leigh Completely agree with you. I had to put the book down a couple of times because Quentin was so self centered, I agree that I liked Julias back story but I felt like she liked to throw herself pity parties about how awful and hard her life was.

message 23: by mark (new)

mark monday it's sort of funny how they are obnoxious opposites. one incredibly shallow, the other pretentiously 'deep'. they both suffer (Quentin losing Alice, Julia's terrible assault) but in the end, it feels like Julia's personality opens up a lot, while Quentin's only a little.

message 24: by j (new)

j i LIKE this book's narrative voice. probably because i'm a snarky, sarcastic jerk who is above it all.

message 25: by mark (new)

mark monday oh, Joel. JOEL! i highly doubt you are as full of self-pitying bullshit as Quentin.

or are you saying you are more like Julia? now that is something i can get behind.

message 26: by j (new)

j well, i love julia's character. quentin is a whiny ass. but i just meant i like the way the narration goes off into snarky commentary/pop culture references.

message 27: by mark (new)

mark monday ok i can see that. i'll give you that one.

message 28: by Mike (new)

Mike You have nailed part of what bugs me, but I think it's intentional. What would happen if you gave a self absorbed Generation Yer or, even worse, a Millenial magical powers? They basically have everything but want MOAR, so let's give them essentially unlimited power and see what happens, see if they manage to grow from the experience.

message 29: by mark (last edited Jun 17, 2013 11:49AM) (new)

mark monday definitely intentional, i agree. but i think the intentionality itself is flawed because it is hard for me to imagine anyone acting like Quentin does over and over and over again. he's a tedious straw man to me rather than an interesting character. and so his thought processes and his actions become likewise uninteresting because they are all so predictable. he's so static he's two-dimensional. Julia, Penny, even Martin all feel more real and certainly more dynamic to me.

message 30: by Sher (new)

Sher May i want to give this review 5 stars instead. i enjoyed the magicians a lot more than the magician king, possibly because i don't really like Julia, but probably because the over satisfied cynicism got a little too much for me after two books. nevertheless still really enjoyed grossman's masterful sophistry at detachment and lazy denouncement and i think this review is a perfect summation about everything this book was about. especially the part about the teenager.

message 31: by Becki (new)

Becki Graves I haven't finished the first book yet. actually I left it at work and was trying to find it online to finish reading when I discovered that it was a series. This was not welcome news as I find most of your negative description is spot on with the first book as well. But your review is so fair and well versed that I may take a crack at the second book. Though I do think I will take a mich deserved break after I finish the first one.
Mainly I just felt that this entire conversation was singularly the most intelligent conversation I've ever come across on the internet and needed to be apart of it.
Please pardon any grammical or spelling errors. I am on my phone.

message 32: by mark (new)

mark monday thank you Becki! I hope you do take a look at this one. it is problematic but there is so much to enjoy. I'm looking forward (with some reservations) to the third book, The Magician's Land.

message 33: by j (new)

j what if this book really was about the adventures of a magical asshole? like... literally?

what would its powers be?

message 34: by mark (new)

mark monday I think I will research that this weekend and get back to you!

message 35: by Rasheeda (new)

Rasheeda I'm not even going to write a review because you summed it up perfectly for me. Even when they were in the underworld Julia only thought of herself. Quentin complained about not being in an adventure even when he clearly was in one. The secondary characters were a lot more interesting than those two.

message 36: by mark (new)

mark monday ...and yet I'm sure I will be reading the third book in the trilogy. I can't stop myself!

glad you enjoyed the review.

message 37: by Nick (new)

Nick Richtsmeier This is an incredibly honest and accurate review. The book is annoying and terrible for all the self-absorbed glib reasons you state. And yet the book is a page-turning thriller for all the reasons you state. The question remains would anyone read this if Lev Grossman wasn't Lev Grossman?

message 38: by mark (new)

mark monday thank you!

honestly I would - Lev Grossman was unknown to me when I started the trilogy (and he still is not someone I'm overly familiar with. I think he's a critic and that he has a brother who is an author as well - and that's about all I know about him). the idea of an 'adult' Harry Potter meets Narnia is what drew me in.

one of these days I have to get around to reading that third book.

message 39: by Sean (new)

Sean You shoe gazers sure get defensive towards this series.

message 40: by mark (new)

mark monday You trolls sure like to assume that people care about your comments.

message 41: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Addison It does lack sincereity. Which is what makes it pretty damn good. It's a novel about a fantasy land in an old clock. Put aside your emotional attachment to escapism and see it from a cynical and practical point of view. I hated Quentin Coldwater at first. And Janet? I wanted to slap that selfish bitch. But then as I finished up the series I realized I had WAY more in common with them than I ever would with the Pevensies. I'm irreverent, full of hubris and self entitlement. If I was trasnported to a magical otherworld, you bet I'd be singing Looney Tunes as I tramped thru the forest because I do it NOW. This set of novels more accurately and believeably convinced me that some Narnia/Fillory dimension really does exist, and just because I'm a cynical, casually offensive, blunt and abrasive grown up doesn't mean I'm barred fro accessing something absolutely mind blowlingly amazing.

message 42: by mark (new)

mark monday Jenny, I love your perspective on this book. makes perfect sense. I wish you had written a review!

I have yet to read the third book but it is sitting on my desk waiting patiently for me. I'll try to use your perspective when I read it.

message 43: by Jason (new)

Jason Alexander I think you articulated this wonderfully, well done. It's not a bad premise for a book, but the snarky, jaded wrapping takes all the energy out of the book.

message 44: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Addison mark wrote: "Jenny, I love your perspective on this book. makes perfect sense. I wish you had written a review!

I have yet to read the third book but it is sitting on my desk waiting patiently for me. I'll try..."

Ah, my work here is done. *rides into the purple sunset on her unicorn* :)

message 45: by mark (new)

mark monday Jason wrote: "I think you articulated this wonderfully, well done. It's not a bad premise for a book, but the snarky, jaded wrapping takes all the energy out of the book."

and yet I am on the verge of reading the third book to see where it all ends up. Grossman's shallow, jaded snark makes his books an often enervating experience, but I do admire his creativity.

message 46: by Justine (new)

Justine Turtles all the way down, my friend:)

message 47: by mark (new)

mark monday ha! I love that phrase.

message 48: by Kyle (new)

Kyle Marino I know this review was from a few years ago, but I'd just like to point out that "The Continuing Adventures of a Smug Magical Asshole, as written by An Asshole. and now featuring The New Adventures of a Completely Self-Absorbed Bitch" is the single best description of this book I think it's possible to make.

message 49: by mark (new)

mark monday thank you! I aim to please.

message 50: by Nicholas (new)

Nicholas Kotar couldn't agree with you more. Grossman's talent is undeniable, and for most of the first book I held on for dear life, because he makes writing feel so effortless. But when he claimed to be inspired by Narnia and then proceeded to eviscerate Narnia, I threw the book against the wall.

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