I was ready to love this book, it's supposed to be Harry Potter like but more gritty, more realistic, more substantial, and I guess it is and I still like the idea of it. And yet this book did not work for me. I was really patient with it, I downplayed the initial irritation of incorporating the entire Potter premise. It's one thing to borrow bits and pieces, it's another to rip off a whole concept leaving out a few bits here and there and dressing up the rest. But since I'm a sucker for fantasy, so I was willing to let that go. Mimicry is the highest form of flattery, right? Mimic all you want, just make the story interesting and magical.
But the story... Meh.
The story lacked in optimism, was devoid of magic and the main character? I tried to like him, I understood him, I did not hate him, but I never really warmed up to him or to any of the other characters either. And what Grossman was trying to get across was a bit of a downer, outwardly depressing at times. It felt like he was striving to make the book something more than a mere fantasy novel, striving to grasp a deeper truth, striving to incorporate some existentialism into the story. Whatever. It might have strived but in the end it failed. At least it failed me. I would have liked it better if Grossman got in peace with the thought that you're writing a fantasy novel, and left it at that. There's nothing wrong with fantasy, not everything has to be high lit. So Mr. Grossman if you like me for your fan, don't take yourself that seriously, throw me a bone next time and put in some magic and a few optimistic thoughts into the story. Because you had the potions and the spells and all that shit, but in the end, it did not feel magical, not to me.