Danielle's Reviews > The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
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's review
Nov 21, 11

bookshelves: 2011-read, fantasy
Read from November 03 to 20, 2011

“The problem with growing up,” Quentin said, “is that once you’re grown up, people who aren’t grown up aren’t fun anymore.”

Indeed, Quentin. If the author ever grows up, I might find his writing fun instead of unbearable. Most of the book suffers from awful, boring characters, poor pacing, and a general lack of any coherent plot. Book avoids a one-star from me solely because of the chapter spent at Brakebills South, which was actually interesting and fun.

My biggest peeve with this book is the 'fictional' place Fillory that is talked about constantly. Am I really supposed to believe that EVERYONE had read these 'beloved' children's books? And knew them so well that that's the conclusion they jumped to when they find a button that seems to be 'radiating magic'??? I don't buy it. And the world of Fillory is stupid. Talking bunnies that hand out magical buttons, and a velvet horse that you can ride? It's like a bad cross between Lewis Carroll and CS Lewis. And the main character (who is around 17 years old in the beginning of the book) will NOT shut up about how it's his life goal to live in Fillory. Completely delusional. How am I supposed to relate to this?

Author tries very VERY hard to be clever. Know what the fail mode of clever is? And then he has to explain how clever he's being, just in case you missed it.
“Of course it matters, Vix,” Quentin said. “It’s not like they’re all the same.” “Vix” was a term of endearment with them, short for vixen, an allusion to their Antarctic interlude, vixen being the word for a female fox.


There were some cute bits where the author would reference other popular fantasy worlds, but his world was so boring that it really just made me wish I was reading one of those other books.
“Got anything for time travel? Time-turner or something?” “Not at this time,” Lovelady intoned gravely. “But I will make inquiries.” “Awesome.” Josh stood up. He saluted smartly. “Send me an owl.”


“How do you capture a square?” Gretchen waggled her fingers in the air mysteriously. “With maaaaagic! ” “Where’s the broomsticks?” Quentin was only half joking.

There was even a wizard game! But the game had no point and no rules and wasn't really explained. So it was written about a lot, and I rushed through those parts because the game was stupid.

All the characters were one-dimensional. Quentin (narrator) is The Emo One. Eliot is The Gay One. Josh is The Fat One. Janet is The Foul-Mouthed Party Girl. Alice is The Good One. In fact, they're so completely boring that the author feels the need to tell us (not show us) multiple times that this group is close-knit and have a "magical ability to effortlessly love one another". Really? So close-knit that I had to look up Eliot's name a few hours after finishing the book because I couldn't remember it...?

Every time the book would start to get a little bit magical and I started to be drawn in, the author would play his BUT I'M NOT JK ROWLING! card and insert several out-of-place paragraphs full of swearing and/or sex. I'm cool with that stuff. Just make it fit the story, mkay? Like he meets his girlfriend's crazy magical mother, and she has her breasts hanging out while talking to him. Sounds like the start of a bad porno, not a good book.

Near the climax of the book when they're fighting a big scary fire monster, the author takes the time to write this (and completely throw me out of the action): His huge, hairless, glowing-red cock and balls swung loose between his thighs like the clapper of a bell. He'd already described the monster. It was scary. This was just weird.

Author does get props for using his dictionary. Broke out a few words I had to look up: dipsomaniac, sommelier, miscegenation, persiflage, sangfroid, obstreperous
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