Sandi's Reviews > The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
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Feb 04, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: fantasy, 2010, library-books-read

There is no way to review The Magicians by Lev Grossman without comparing it to the Harry Potter series. The book itself makes reference to the uber-successful Rowling opus several times, so you know what it's striving for. The Magicians is about a young man named Quentin Coldwater who finds himself attending a college for magicians in upstate New York. Because they're college students, they get to drink and have sex. All of the students at Brakesbill College seem to be mentally gifted and emotionally stunted. They have all read a series of children's books about a magical land called Fillory that bears more than a passing resemblance to Narnia. Because the inside cover of The Magicians has a map of Fillory, it should come as no surprise that Quentin and some of his friends find their way from the magical setting of Brakesbill to the more magical world of Fillory. Unfortunately, it takes nearly 300 of the book's 400 pages for them to get there. In the meantime, we have to follow Quentin through 4 years of college and an unspecified number of months living a loser life after graduation.

Quentin and his friends are nowhere near as interesting and well-developed as Harry Potter and his friends. Their school does nothing to prepare them for life after college. Instead of growing as people, they regress. There is no magical world for Brakesbill grads to move into, they are thrust back into the real world unprepared for real life.

The Magicians liberally lifts ideas from both Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia, it lacks the power of either. The text reads very much like a children's book (more Narnia than Potter), but the sex and alcohol abuse prevent it from being a book you could pass to your kids. It lacks the sophistication and depth needed to raise it to the level of a book for an adult audience. For a mature audience, I recommend Harry Potter.
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Reading Progress

February 4, 2010 – Shelved
February 15, 2010 – Started Reading
February 15, 2010 – Shelved as: fantasy
February 15, 2010 –
page 50
February 23, 2010 – Shelved as: 2010
February 23, 2010 – Shelved as: library-books-read
February 23, 2010 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Lisa Vegan Sandi, I can't wait for your rating/review. This has been on my list for forever but I keep bumping it down because I think I've read more negative views than positive views about it.

Sandi It's not getting off to an impressive start. I'm actually a bit surprised that it's being marketed to an adult audience. The writing seems to be very young adult, like for middle school.

Lisa Vegan Well, I like ya and children's books, but only if they're good. Awaiting your final opinion.

message 4: by D. (last edited Feb 24, 2010 01:54AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

D. Pow great review. I had some of the same problems with the book, meant to write a review, but never got around to it.

It's like an adult Harry Potter but with people like Malfoy as the hero. Grossman doesn't get to the genuine transformative joy possible in books about other worlds and magic, the metaphorical kick one can bring to the reader. A cold and sterile book for people who think themselves too sophisticated for genre fiction, a sub-section of the reading public that I suspect includes the author.

whoops...maybe I did just write a review...

Lisa Vegan Thanks, Sandi. So interesting that I heard nothing but raves at the beginning, and since then, not much but criticism, but no reasons for that until now. Interesting. I'll have to decide whether or not to remove it from my shelves, but I'm not rushing out to read it. Too bad.

Stephanie Your review was much less anger-fueled than mine :)And much better, Maybe I won't bother with finishing after all...

Sandi Stephanie wrote: "Your review was much less anger-fueled than mine :)And much better, Maybe I won't bother with finishing after all..."

I never really got angry with the book, just disgusted.

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