Likened to the Harry Potter series I expected great things from The Magicians. No sooner then the first chapter did I realize that was a big mistake. The book centers around the private institution known as Brakebills, a school that trains young teenagers to harness their natural magical ability. The main character, Quentin Coldwater, hails from Brooklyn, NY and has taken to magic, and the enchanted world of Fillory, as an outlet for his depression. Upon his acceptance at Brakebills be begins learning about so-called “real magic” and is enchanted by the dark-haired Alice, who appears to be a natural in each class. The book goes on to show life after Quentin and his group of friends, dubbed The Physical Kids, graduate from Brakebills and enter the world of professional magic.
I have to say that overall, The Magicians did not impress me. While the very end was redeeming I found that most of this book was completely devoid of plot with unnecessarily complicated language that confused the reader more then it aided the nonexistent story. Quentin himself is an extremely unlikeable character who was more interested in showing off and appearing self important then he was at working on his magic. With Quentin’s lack of interest, I found this book both void of character and of plot, which left us with prose-like excerpts of life at Brakebills, most of which served no purpose later. In addition to the choppy narration, Grossman’s word choices barely made sense nor lent any redeeming attributes to the characters.
It is a sad thing when a reader can imagine another way to write the book, and I am not talking about simply changing the perspective. I mean an entirely different way to write a book. That is how I felt most of the time reading The Magicians. It seemed often like Grossman was more interested in writing about the fictional world of Fillory that he created for his fiction character. It seemed like Quentin’s thoughts went on for ages about plots of the five Fillory books and left little space for Quentin to have any other interest, aside from shagging her girlfriend Alice. Personally, I found myself preferring to read about the Chatwins and their adventures in Fillory then Quentin’s experience reading about Fillory.
In the end however, I took away what Lev Grossman was trying to achieve with this 400 page story. However, I was also kicking myself for the fact that I wasted two weeks trying to read this book just to get a point made in the last thirty pages. In the end, I found The Magicians disappointing and uneventful on many levels. I didn’t come into it expecting Harry Potter, but I most certainly didn’t expect unintelligible strings of prose to be the focus. Overall, The Magicians is what happens when you throw a copy of The Chronicles of Narnia in with the complete Harry Potter series and hit blend, but stop halfway through only to find ice cube chunks in your smoothie. The book is definitely unoriginal, uneventful, and worthy of publication.
Final Grade: F