David's Reviews > The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
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Aug 12, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: read-in-2012
Read in August, 2012

This was an odd book. The reasons for me to dislike it were numerous -- its enormous literary debt to the Harry Potter and Narnia books, (neither a series that I have ever been able to finish), third person narration from the point of view of the main protagonist, Quentin, who remains a total git from start to finish, and whose companions share the sense of jaded superiority of the charmed inner circle of "The Secret History" and the kind of annoying nihilism of the characters in "Less Than Zero".

But the fact is, once I started it, I couldn't stop. I read the thing in just two sittings. So I have to give points for that.

The writing is adequate, with occasional set pieces that soar (sometimes literally -- my favorite part was when the students are transformed into Canada geese for their migration to Brakebills South). The pacing could have been tighter. Characterization was often perfunctory (Quentin's parents, in particular). The "hero" is pretty much a jerk throughout, exhibiting precious little in the way of emotional growth for a Bildungsroman.

But, for some reason, "The Magicians" still worked for me. Despite its obvious flaws, I really enjoyed it.

Other reviews make the criticism that the book is nothing more than a "ripoff" of the Harry Potter and Narnia books. This seems to me to miss the mark. Grossman has indeed borrowed many elements from the worlds of Hogwarts and Narnia. But he has used them to fashion a story that is indisputably original. One that may not be completely to the liking of Potter or Narnia fans, however.

Your mileage may vary, but it would be wrong to dismiss "The Magicians" out of hand.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Arun (new)

Arun Divakar Harry Potter for grown ups is a generalized comment I get to hear. Is it so ?


David I can't really answer that, as "Harry Potter for grown ups" just seems like an empty slogan to me - I'm not sure what it's supposed to mean. "The Magicians" is clearly not directed towards kids, that much is certainly true.


message 3: by Arun (new)

Arun Divakar David wrote: "I can't really answer that, as "Harry Potter for grown ups" just seems like an empty slogan ..."

Thought as much. It sounded a very cliched usage to me too.


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