Sue CCCP's Reviews > The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
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's review
Feb 14, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: review-written, nyobg
Read from February 29 to March 08, 2012

My full review: http://coffeecookiesandchilipeppers.b...

Quentin is not a nice person, and very few of the other characters elicit any sympathy, which is unfortunate when we are supposed to care whether they die or not. I suppose I could claim that this is Mr Grossman’s very clever use of his writing to make us feel the same listless inertia that his characters exhibit, but given the books other failings I am not tempted to be that generous. Quentin is so invested in being unhappy that he constantly looks for the thing that will fix it: and consequently fails to try to be happy by living his life. He only looks outside himself for a path to happiness and thus succeeds in moping through the book like a little black cloud, obliterating any prospect of happiness that crosses his path. In general, he and his friends are self-absorbed babies with entitlement issues, even though they are all in their early twenties.

The plotting and pacing in this book are truly awful. We spend an eternity at Brakebills learning very little about the characters or the world: it is somewhat like reading a thousand ‘What I Did In The Holidays’ essays written by five-year-olds. Nothing much happens, it is very repetitive and anything that does is described in such a way as to make it uninteresting. This is definitely a book that should have been at least one hundred pages shorter: all taken from the Brakebills section. Once we left the wretched school things became marginally more interesting, but by that stage I was in such an unforgiving mood that I struggled to even complete the book. The plot itself had episodes that were totally illogical and unexplained. For example, at one point one of the other boys attacks Quentin and they have a huge fight because . . . I have no idea, because we never get the slightest hint of a reason for this bizarre behavior. However, the same boy appears later as the Deus Ex Machina to move us into the next phase of the story, so maybe he is simply there to allow the plot to progress.

The blurb says “ . . . thrilling . . . boldly moves into uncharted literary territory . . . an utterly original world . . .” erm, let me think about that: no, no and not totally, as I have outlined above. The one saving grace that I could find is that the magic is handled very differently from the usual ‘point and zap’. Not only is magic really hard work, but also, as Wendy from the book group pointed out, it is NOT the answer to all of the world’s problems. It does not make things better in the miraculous way of many fantasy titles: it is just another way to do some things. Looking at the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, there are a wide range of views on this book, so I'm not alone in my disappointment that it didn't live up to the hype.

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03/01/2012 page 39
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