Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Magicians - Lev Grossman

Hi everyone! I've recently joined Teresa's team and this is my very first post! I reside in Singapore and have been reading fantasy books since the age of 11. For my very first review, this was a book that was released not long ago. Hearing good things about it, I went down to Borders to get myself a copy of The Magicians by Lev Grossman. Synopsis (from Publishers Weekly): 'Harry Potter discovers Narnia is real in this derivative fantasy thriller from Time book critic Grossman (Codex). Quentin Coldwater, a Brooklyn high school student devoted to a children's series set in the Narnia-like world of Fillory, is leading an aimless existence until he's tapped to enter a mysterious portal that leads to Brakebills College, an exclusive academy where he's taught magic. Coldwater, whose special gifts enable him to skip grades, finds his family's world mundane and domestic when he returns home for vacation. He loses his innocence after a prank unintentionally allows a powerful evil force known only as the Beast to enter the college and wreak havoc. Eventually, Coldwater's powers are put to the test when he learns that Fillory is a real place and how he can journey there. Genre fans will easily pick up the many nods to J.K. Rowling and C.S. Lewis, not to mention J.R.R. Tolkien in the climactic battle between the bad guy and a magician.' Review: The Magicians by Lev Grossman was an engaging read. A hybrid of Harry Potter meets Narnia with a good pinch of societal/ teenage angst, I could not help but be pulled into both worlds (the 'real world' and Fillory) that Grossman created. I understand that people keep refering to this as an Adult Harry Potter book. I vehemently disagree. In fact, the only similarity I found was that Quentin, like Harry Potter, went to a wizard school. And that is where the similarities end. In fact, for some strange reason, the cynical depressing undertones and attitude of the characters in the story reminded me more of Hancock in how added powers need not necesarily add up to greater happiness. The Magicians tells the tale of people being thrust into something they thought they would like, but finding out that what they wanted doesn't really mean a lot and it doesn't solve all the other problems and temptations that young adults face. Drugs, alcohol and even relationships. It's something that most people can relate to and that is what makes the story so interesting. In short, it's not a coming of age story. But a moral story selling the idea of being careful for what you wish for, you just might get it. This is definitely a novel that I'd be happy to read again. I enjoyed the writing and I like how Grossman separates different story arcs into different books. I found the pacing excellent and even the ending could not take away the awe i had for this book. Lev Grossman is certainly a talented writer, and The Magicians is a great novel. One of my top 10 reads of the year. 9/10. A must read Reviewed by Ben

6 comments:

Avery DeBow said...

I just saw this book in Borders the other day and was wondering about it. Thanks for the review. Looks like a keeper.

SQT said...

Thanks and welcome aboard Ben. I've been meaning to get to this one. I'm lucky enough to have the book, just not the time. But I thought it looked good.

benjamin.ywc said...

Hey Avery, do let me know what you think of the book once you finish it. I've seen an increasing amount of negative comments regarding The Magicians, but personally, I really enjoyed it. Heard that plans for a sequel have started. :)

benjamin.ywc said...

Well put Theresa. Time is such a scarcity these days. How i wish i could find time to squeeze in at least 3 hours of reading each day

ediFanoB said...

The book is on my reading list for this month and I expect to write and post a review in December.
Your review differs from other reviews I read but I liked what you wrote. Now I'm even more interested to read The Magicians. But first I will finish my current reads: The Stormcaller by Tom Lloyd and Colours in the Steel by K.J.Parker.

benjamin.ywc said...

Hi ediFanoB, reviews for 'The Magicians' seems quite polarised. Some people loved it, others thought it was awful. I noticed that the earlier reviews that came up were positive (this got me quite interested in the book), but the later reviews were more critical.

I'm looking at your current reads. I haven't read Colours in the Steel, but generally, I'm not a big fan of Parker. I only liked her Engineer trilogy. Tom Llyod is an author which i like, but it seems that a good majority did not like the Twilight Herald and Storm Caller.