Emilie's Reviews > The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
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Oct 26, 11

bookshelves: 2011, mythopoetic
Read from October 17 to 26, 2011

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Comments (showing 51-100 of 115) (115 new)


message 51: by Miriam (new) - added it

Miriam I also picked it up for a quarter, although I had been meaning to try it anyway. Otherwise I would have gotten it from the library.


message 52: by Jen (new)

Jen I think perhaps the both of us finding the book for around a quarter might mean something. Above over-printing or aggressive marketing, I mean. Sometimes things worth a quarter are really worth a quarter. (the book treasure hunter part of my brain is trying to disagree with what I've written here, but I'm leaving the comment anyway)


message 53: by Miriam (new) - added it

Miriam Well, I know lots of people who liked it as well as several who didn't. But I do think it was over-hyped. Any book with a massive printing run will result in lots of cheap copies, because many people don't keep books. Did you know that?! They buy something, read it (or not) and throw it away or donate it. I know people who read but own almost no books.


message 54: by Jen (new)

Jen Well, I can count myself among the guilty party to some degree there- I usually only keep books I really cherish because they are terribly wonderful or wonderfully terrible. Ho-hum books I usually pass along. I know , I know, this means that I am hoarding all the best and worst books. Consider this my mostly unrepentant apology, world.

Also- maybe this book did have a massive print run- my copy was .29 brand new from a bookstore.


message 55: by Miriam (new) - added it

Miriam Haha, no, I didn't mean it like an accusation! You're probably better off not keeping them. I'm just a book hoarder and have trouble letting go of anything I didn't dislike.One of the many nice things about this site is that it lets me get rid of books more easily, because I can send them to good homes!


Emilie why do you keep the worst ones?

i have two friends who liked this in very different ways. both loved harry potter, so i'm thinking there's a lot of potter references & resonances. (and there a lot of references to narnia & other fantasy novels as well as music & c.; too many references done in a particular way for my taste. [i felt hit over the head.]) also, i imagine the way a person responds to the tone makes a big difference. this is one i really just should've stopped reading.

the big print run means they put a lot of cash into marketing it & they anticipated it would be really popular?


[Name Redacted] I hold onto books I hate if and only if i can use them for polemic purposes (for instance, much of Freud's writing on religion and race) or they were a gift from someone i care about. I really disliked "The Magicians" but it was a gift from a dear friend, so i wouldn't dream of parting with it. There's a sentimental component.


message 58: by Jen (new)

Jen Miriam wrote: "Haha, no, I didn't mean it like an accusation! You're probably better off not keeping them. I'm just a book hoarder and have trouble letting go of anything I didn't dislike.One of the many nice thi..."

I know. I'm just a potentially guilty person. I can apologize for just about anything. I will now apologize for wanting to apologize here. See how I did that? I'm an I'm sorry ninja.

Emilie wrote: "why do you keep the worst ones?"
I am strangely fond of misfit books. They make me laugh and I scribble sarcastic things in the page margins. I do usually end up passing them on, but if any are left after I die, I hope my kids read them and get all the inside jokes. That would be legacy enough for me.


message 59: by Shane (new)

Shane Jen: I think the idea of your children (and some random book readers) finding the sarcastic notes inside, is fabulous. It would be like finding little pieces of treasure. (especially if they are notes from a lost loved one!)
I really love the idea of finding lost treasures in attics and hidden nooks and such, and the idea of finding some thoughts from a lost loved one, or of some stranger from a used book store find, especially if they are sarcastic and funny, makes me feel a little giddy...

I love that you say are fond of misfit books. this is such a beautiful idea...(Personally, I tend to save most of the ones I don't love more out of a hoarder tendency, than from an active decision to keep them...)

one day, in high school, I watched a boy sit in the hallway next to a few crumpled pages from the book he was reading for some class...then, he tore the page he had just finished, and crumpled it up...
I was so confused...his explanation- he just hated the book so much, he felt compelled to destroy it, so he would never have to read it again...
(I have come across a couple books I felt this storngly about, but did not have it in me to deface them as such...I just pawned them off on unsuspecting others, though, because just seeing the book on a shelf would remind me of how much I hated reading them...


message 60: by Miriam (last edited Nov 29, 2011 12:35PM) (new) - added it

Miriam I'm sure your children would treasure those books, Jen. Have you read Ceridwen's review of Dune? Almost makes me sad that no one in my family marks books.

Shane, I've never been able to destroy a real book, either, although I angrily cut up some fake* books that various intrusive people gave me as a kid.

*I don't know exactly what to call them, but they're usually short and shiny softcovers about whatever topic: puberty, religion, family problems, etc. Often they include cartoonish line-drawing and/or very short illustrative stories or dialogs.


message 61: by Jen (new)

Jen Shane wrote: "Jen: I think the idea of your children (and some random book readers) finding the sarcastic notes inside, is fabulous. It would be like finding little pieces of treasure. (especially if they are no..."

I am in awe of those with book hoarder tendencies or large collections of things, like pez dispensers or old jukeboxes, bowling shoes, or monogrammed hankies... I love checking out shops and bookstores filled to the rafters with unruly piles- they feel like portholes into another dimension or something, like a Neil Gaiman story.


message 62: by Miriam (new) - added it

Miriam I like looking in people's untidy attics.


message 63: by Jen (new)

Jen You would be disappointed with my mother. Everything is in a rubbermaid tote and labeled and cross labeled. Very tidy.


message 64: by Miriam (new) - added it

Miriam My grandmother often put cryptic little notes pertaining to ancestors I couldn't identify. My cousin and I used to poke through their jewelry and try to decipher their letters. Sometimes we dressed up in their clothes (It was especially funny in high school, when he was a punk. Nothing like shaving one side of your head and piercing stuff to rock the granny clothes).


message 65: by Jen (last edited Nov 30, 2011 07:38AM) (new)

Jen That sounds like fun. My grandmother reads smut, biographies, and inspirational books. Sadly, I don't expect too much marginalia from these books. But maybe I'll be surprised...maybe I'll find "Just like JP in 1945!" next to a passage like "she reached around from behind him and grabbed at the curling hairs on his chiseled chest..."


message 66: by Miriam (new) - added it

Miriam Haha, ew. It was weird enough finding the risque letters my great-grandparents wrote to each other.


message 67: by Jen (last edited Nov 30, 2011 11:44AM) (new)

Jen See, I would love to find some risque letters from my great-grandparents. And that makes me weird.


Alyson thanks for this review. i agree with you! i can tell you the precise moment when i could no longer stand this book. when the author feels the need to explain his vixen reference. obviously the reader cannot be smart enough to understand that a vixen is a female fox. UGGGGGGH. unfortunately, i share the same compulsion to finish books that i start so i had to trudge through this one.


message 69: by [Name Redacted] (last edited Dec 06, 2011 11:23AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

[Name Redacted] Yep. Grossman is a teller, not a show-er!


Emilie thanks alyson. yeah, i yelled at the book over that vixen moment. he underestimates the reader, and gives me the feeling that he is looking up big words as he is writing, as if the use of fancy words alone signify intelligence, and will distract the reader from the meaning (or lack thereof).

he's a showy teller!


message 71: by Miriam (new) - added it

Miriam Ridiculously after the fact, but I found the image I was referring to in comment 52:




Emilie that's great! i love the wee men stirring it with their hands and pulling her tail! breaking so many kitchen rules. i like the style.


message 73: by Miriam (new) - added it

Miriam Those are her unruly troll children!


Emilie haha. you can tell i just started reading the wee free men! what a cool mama she is to let them play like that while she cooks.


message 75: by Melanie (new)

Melanie I'm too impatient to read all these comments. I read your review and I am only a few pages in and agree with you. I'm going to keep going for 100 pages to see if I get hooked. I recommend you to adopt the "if I'm not interested in 100 pages, wiki the ending and move on" because as someone recently said to me, "Life is too short to read bad books." I used to be the same, now I feel 100% okay with abandoning books that aren't worth the time.


[Name Redacted] I may have to take that strategy with the second "Mistborn" book. My friends raved about it, but I'm 100 pages in and it feels INTERMINABLE!


Emilie 100 pages sounds good/fair. i did give up on two books this year, i still feel sort of guilty (& told myself i'd return to them someday...), though, you are right, they are not worth the time!
it's funny, when i was younger, if a book didn't grip me in the first few pages, i tossed it aside. and my tastes at that time were pretty literary-only. (yeah, lit snobby youth!) oh, ian i looked it up and mistborn is a long book to seem interminable already!


message 78: by Leah (new) - rated it 2 stars

Leah you could say the say for Name of the Wind by Rothfuss!!! TOO MANY SIMILES. >:@


Emilie i haven't read that one.


message 80: by Jon (new)

Jon Scott your interview with the author entertained me. thanks


Emilie i'm pleased it entertained you. thanks for letting me know.


message 82: by Miriam (new) - added it

Miriam I'm reading this now and totally see what you mean about the similes.


Emilie you get an official hat (blue with blue dl and l logo) and sunglass string thing, you are now qualified to revoke simile licenses. we give fines for excessive foreshadowing and for one other thing i can't remember, too.


message 84: by Budd (new) - rated it 2 stars

Budd yes, it also made me hate reading. Grossman should be charged with something; maybe public nuissance.


message 85: by Emilie (last edited Sep 17, 2012 06:18PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Emilie we should make a list of literary crimes and the fines that go with them. (i'd pay the comma fine upfront.) to his credit, he does not make a public nuisance of himself the way many writers do at goodreads, so i think his charge should be something else, reading-hate is no small thing.


message 86: by Miriam (new) - added it

Miriam Maybe per-word demerits for excess verbiage?


Emilie i like that. 'excess verbiage' sounds like it should be the name of book-lovers drinking game.


message 88: by Miriam (new) - added it

Miriam I'm up for a round!


Charles Holt Wow, you really didn't get this book. It's about adolescence. The reason the main character is so annoying and full of himself is because he's a teenage boy! This book is an amazing reflection of many 18 year old boys as they strike out in to the world.


[Name Redacted] No, it's really not. And other authors have done what you propose, only better.

But then again I'm voicing my opinion. And, y'know, an opinion is a non-objective statement.


Alexander That's what people call "flawed character", Emilie. Although, Quentin is more flawed than your typical protagonist.
"stop telling me that he is the smartest of the smart! i dislike when people keep telling me something that isn't true. he lacks common sense, insight, logic, and the ability to think critically. he's heartless and unkind." That's realism for you. People are dicks, and super-nerds are super-dicks. Been there, done that. Quentin is a horrible person, and I spent half of the time hating him. I almost stopped reading half the way because of how depressing the book is, but Quentin is not a badly written character.


message 92: by Emilie (last edited Jan 31, 2013 02:54PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Emilie a flawed character is a an imperfect character with depth. q. has no depth. he doesn't have flaws, he is flaws. he is one-dimensional. this book didn't make me feel anything, because i just didn't care about q. and i just didn't find him to be in any way realistic or compelling.

when i was in high school, i was friends with stunningly intelligent adolescent males. if you want to judge by the standard type of measurements he applies in the book (intelligence truly being measured and showing itself in much more complicated ways), we're talking all a's, perfect sat's, ivy league and more i won't go into. they had really big flaws (each different), but none could be reduced to simply an arrogant, heartless teenager who had no greater concern than his own boredom. they were complicated, complex and layered. that is reality.

reality is that arrogance and cruelty are not indicators of intelligence.

i'm also no stranger to heartless villains, and even heartless villains are not only heartless villains. that is a reductionist view on people and on character that is nothing like reality and it's not interesting as it lacks depth.

also, this book is written in the third person, so the person who relentlessly hammers into the reader how supossedly brilliant q. is is not q., it's the author, telling me what he cannot show me, because it is not true.


[Name Redacted] Emilie wrote: "a flawed character is a an imperfect character with depth. q. has no depth. he doesn't have flaws, he is flaws. he is one-dimensional. this book didn't make me feel anything, because i just didn't ..."

The "telling vs. showing" thing is definitely a big problem with this book.


Crystal Emilie wrote: "a flawed character is a an imperfect character with depth. q. has no depth. he doesn't have flaws, he is flaws. he is one-dimensional. this book didn't make me feel anything, because i just didn't ..."

Absolutely agree with this! NO depth, ALL flaws. And I might have liked more show and less tell- but then I would have had to trudge through more awkward writing and I've had enough of that after this book, thanks.


Emilie thanks, ian and crystal. yes, it was a relief to be finished.


message 96: by Miriam (new) - added it

Miriam , this book is written in the third person, so the person who relentlessly hammers into the reader how supossedly brilliant q. is is not q., it's the author, telling me what he cannot show me, because it is not true.

Do you think it would've worked better in 1st person?
Although 1st-person Quintin might've been unbearable...


Alexander Miriam wrote: "Although 1st-person Quintin might've been unbearable... "
Brrrr, no! Please, no! Watching Quentin moodswing between Shinji (Evangelion) and Quothe (Name of wind)from 1st-person would be terrible.


message 98: by Ruth (new)

Ruth E. R. Enjoyed your review. I haven't read this book, but I might go back and make my reviews a bit more meaningful LIKE yours! :)


Emilie that's kind of you to say, thanks, ruth! i like your dorothy costume.


message 100: by Emilie (new) - rated it 1 star

Emilie Miriam wrote: "Do you think it would've worked better in 1st person?
Although 1st-person Quintin might've been unbearable.."


i don't know. yes and no. yes, i think it would've worked better for me. it'd be more honest and i think i'd be more likely to feel for q. as a character, and to see many of the problems as problems of q.'s unique perspective and not the writing itself. also, it seems like it would've forced lev grossman to show that there's more to q., even if it's only the seeds of something. though i don't think he wanted to do that, so no. what do you think, would it work better for you in first person?


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