The Magicians by Lev Grossman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was somewhere between 3 and 4 stars for me. I picked it up because I watched a few episodes of the TV series and thought the book would be just as entertaining. Somewhere between that thought and actually starting the book, I got a little bored with the TV show and focused more on the audiobook. Everyone warned me that the first book is tough, but I still decided to start it. I can see what they mean, now.
I should start out by saying that the book and show have a few common points, but that’s about all. The story takes you to a lot of different places (some darker, some lighter) and I think it was actually better than the TV show. After all the warnings I got, I was prepared for a book I had to drag myself to finish. That’s definitely not the case. 3 out of 4 of the “books” within this book were really great and had me looking forward to listening more (I did it via audiobook). That last book, though. That was tough – but I’m getting way ahead of myself here.
Quentin is the star of the book and we spend a lot of time in his head. He’s a bit of an outsider, even with his friends (one of which he lusts after secretly). He is merely going through the motions of being a very intelligent young man, and got as far as applying to college before getting recruited by a secret magic school in a very abrupt way. From there, things really take off quickly for Quentin. He’s propelled through an intense set of studies and becomes part of his own new set of friends, leaving the others behind in the “normal” world. His circle of friends reminds me a lot of some TV rendition of art school kids. They’re mostly bored with the general population and “too cool for school.” The school (which has had safety issues before) ends up suffering another tragedy when “the beast” makes an appearance. Somehow, they manage to mostly forget about the incident and continue on to graduate.
The movement into the real world is where things get… depressing. Magicians with other magicians are fun and exciting to watch. When they become alcoholics and suffer an endless boredom with life (and endless money), it just starts to drag. Luckily, here’s where the magic comes back into the story. After Quentin makes some really dumb mistakes, a lucky encounter with another student leads them all into a world they only thought was imaginary. That’s where the gruesome action truly begins in this book. From there, things go from bad to worse. Who knew an imaginary world could be so horrible? If you’re looking for a book with a HEA, this is not the one for you. There’s an almost-sorta-kinda cliffhanger at the end, which I am fine leaving as it is. I don’t think I’m going back for the next book in the series, even though I am a little curious about the ultimate fates of all the characters. This book just took too sad a turn for me to dive right back in.
View all my reviews