This book. This book. I heard for months and months that I should read The Magicians by Lev Grossman because I am a big Harry Potter fan. “Read this!” people said. “You will love it! It’s like Harry Potter for adults!” So after reading the treatment on the back, I checked it out as an ebook (and its sequel, since both were available) from the library.
The Magicians is the story of teenage Quentin, a high school senior who’s still obsessed with a series of books about magicians he read as a child and the land those books take place in, called Fillory. On his was to a college entrance interview, Quentin ends up in a community garden and then suddenly he isn’t where he was before – he is in a new, magical land. It’s not Fillory, but it’s a secret college for magicians, and while he’s there he sits through an extensive entrance examination. Clearly he gets in because otherwise there would be no book.
You guys, I really, really wanted to like this book. I tried so hard. In the beginning, when Quentin was a student at the college, I liked it. He was there for five years, and those chapters were so quick. I enjoyed hearing about him learning magic, and the relationships he forged, and the people who surrounded him. And then he graduated and the whole book went to hell in a hand basket for me.
I don’t really feel like this book was well-planned or executed. My overall impression was that too much happened in its 400 pages. Imagine all seven years of Harry Potter happening in a single book. You just can’t picture it. Or all three (four?) Lord of the Rings novels taking place in a single set of pages. No way. That is how I felt about this book. Grossman has already written another book, so it would have made so much more sense to break this one up into two different novels, the first being his time in college and the second being his time after he graduates.
None of the characters, especially Quentin, is really likeable, except Alice and well, you read the book and find out what happens to her. I wanted to smack Quentin in the face, tell him to cut and wash his emo greasy hair (because with all of his sulking and “I-don’t-fit-in-ness” that is precisely how I imagined him), and make him stand up straight. He was whinny and irritable for 400 pages. No thank you. And his cast of supporting characters also had very few redeeming qualities.
One last thing that just drove. me. crazy? The constant references to Harry Potter! Grossman makes mention of Hermione and Quidditch and I was like, WTF, man? I get they’re contemporary kids who might’ve read Harry Potter but you invented this land called Fillory! There’s no need to rely on Hogwarts! (Also, the Fillory books sound so stupid, aside from the rams Umber and Ember.)
Overall Rating: 5/10