Jane's Reviews > The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
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's review
Mar 28, 2011

liked it
Recommended to Jane by: Kevin
Read from March 28 to April 02, 2011

Don't be misled by anything anyone tries to say about this book "mixing the magic" of the likes of Harry Potter and Narnia. Yeah, maybe alike in the form of a school of magic and siblings that go out on an adventure in an alternate world. That's where it stops. This novel is about as different as you can get from Hogwarts and the Pevensie siblings, and I think the publisher and lots of reviewers are doing a disservice to this novel for claiming such a resemblance. I'm quite sure that that portrayal of the story inadvertently colored my opinion more negatively.

If you want to read a book about a cynical, depressed, alcoholic teenager who never grows up, this book is it. If you want to read about relationship issues after nearly everyone goes and sleeps with each other, this book is it. If you want to wallow in the drunken misery of the protagonist for the better part of half a book, this book is it. If you like magical schools and alternate realities featuring talking animals too, well then, you've hit the jackpot.

This book is about the most depressing thing I've read this year, and no number of fight scenes or hangovers or crazy people on different continents changes anything. But at the same time, it does a fantastic job of portraying the darker side of being a teenager trying to grow up and find something, anything that will make his life feel more meaningful. It left me in a depressive funk because I share so much in common with the fictional Quentin and to this day am still yearning after the same thing he is.

This is fantasy grounded in the rough and gritty real world, about as cynical as you can get, and with no shortage of alcohol and sex. Start reading with that mindset, rather than for what the publisher thinks will sell more books, and you may appreciate it for what it is.
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