Teenaged Wizards with Bad Attitudes

The Magicians (The Magicians, #1)The Magicians by Lev Grossman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I tore through this book over the course of a long weekend, but even as I read, I promised myself I would reread it someday so I could savor the prose. The Magicians reminded me a lot of Little, Big, with the sense of a magical world just a step beyond our own, the beauty of which is mirrored in the language used to describe it.

I liked the confused, depressed teenagers that peopled the book. Quentin really is Harry Potter with a bad attitude. The problem is that Harry changed and grew over the course of his adventures, but Quentin never learns anything other than how to do magic. He doesn’t understand life, people in general, his girlfriend, or himself. Maybe the difference is that Harry had adults who cared for him where Quentin doesn’t seem to have anyone other than his girlfriend, and she’s broken in her own special way. Quentin is simply plucked from his life, taught magic, and kicked out into the real world to find his own way. Doesn’t this boarding school have Resident Advisors, Guidance Counselors, or even teachers who like and want to help their students?

I liked the Dungeons & Dragons adventure in Fillory, but since the characters never played the game themselves — and anyone not in high school in the 80s might not recognize it — I wondered what the author’s point was. Is it satire if the thing you’re satirizing is so far out of date few people recognize it?

The story stutters through a series of endings. Since Quentin never has a goal — and shies from those placed in his path, like graduation — it was hard to keep up the enthusiasm that had me turning pages so eagerly in the beginning of the book. In the end, the book merely stops with a naked plug for the sequel. Don’t know if I will take the bait.

I do plan to reread this book again someday, though. The prose was just that pretty.

View all my reviews

About Loren Rhoads

I'm the author of The Dangerous Type, Kill By Numbers, and No More Heroes. I am also the co-author (with Brian Thomas) of the novel Lost Angels and the author of the essay collection Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel. In addition to blogging at CemeteryTravel.com, I blog about my morbid life at lorenrhoads.com.
This entry was posted in Book review and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s