Reason for reading: I read lots of reviews about lots of books, but the review of Grossman’s latest book (he also wrote The Codex), intrigued me. First of all, the reviewer compared it to Harry Potter and Hogwarts and I have been looking for books that are as good and as enjoyable as J. K. Rowling. Also, it sounded like a very clever mix of science fiction, reality show and magical realism.
First line: "Quentin did a magic trick. Nobody noticed.”
Plot in a (not so short) nutshell:A group of young people are selected to attend Brakebills, a college for young magicians. They muddle through several years of magical education, pass some unusual tests, graduate and arrive in the “real” world, with not a clue what to do with themselves. (Clearly guidance counselors were not a staple at Brakebills.)
After drifting and drinking around for a while, they decide to go on an adventure to Fillory (read Narnia) to put some meaning into their lives. In Fillory they certainly have adventures, only the adventures are very real, difficult, desperate, and lead to several casualties. Our “hero” Quentin winds up in a coma for several months, gets well, shoots a Questing Beast, gets three wishes and wishes to go home.
Once home he tries to shut off all magical impulses, as well as all emotions and ambitions. He is finally rounded up by the friends who survived the Fillory expedition and they decide to return – and do it right this time.
Quite frankly I did not know what to make of this book. It seems to be a cross between (among?) Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Dead Poets Society and the Matrix. And if that doesn’t confuse you, imagine how confused I was.
When children go through the looking glass or into a wardrobe, they bring all their innocence and child-like beliefs with them. When adults (or, as in this case, young adults) push a magic button and find themselves in another dimension they bring all their character flaws, doubts and cynicism, bad manners and bad habits.
The Magicians was slow to start (I kept waiting for something to happen); full of surprises and incongruities; peopled by characters who are not very admirable. The only thing is I couldn’t stop reading it. You decide if you want to try. Meg