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bookmarked: The Magicians

I’ve been reading more lately.  This has made me want to record my thoughts on what I’m reading, for posterity’s sake of course.  What better place to do this then my very own blog?!  As a bonus, you can see what I’m reading and what I’m thinking about what I’m reading as well.  I’m not envisioning very lengthy, in-depth reviews (although it could happen at times).  I just want to record my thoughts, opinions and emotions on as well as my reactions to the material that I’m reading, as simple or as complex as they may be.  Spoilers are likely to abound…

I’ll also be posting these reviews on my Goodreads and LibraryThing accounts.  Feel free to friend me on either site if you want.  I’m horrible about keeping up with them, but hopefully I’ll get better.

Without further ado, first up:

The Magicians book cover

Title: The Magicians
Author: Lev Grossman
Format: Kindle eBook
Overall rating: 2 (out of 5)

I read this book with an eager anticipation of greatness; unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed.  I’m not sure what I was really expecting, but I know that I didn’t find it all.

While I’ve seen the book described by other readers as Narnia or Harry Potter for adults, I think that a more accurate description would be a coming of age story set in a half-hearted attempt at gritty magical realism that vainly tries to grapple with the question of whether or not escapism is a valid approach to dealing with the troubles of life.

As far as grit is concerned:  The swearing is kept to a minimum.  The sex feels like an afterthought.  Really the only thing going for it in the grit department is that many of the characters are model examples of functional alcoholics, only too functional at that.  In short, the grit is missing.

As to coming of age:  It simply doesn’t happen.  Our main character starts out jaded and ends jaded, with some points of elation in between.  Sure, he wakes up to a wider world, but I’m not sure that this is growth as much as a change of circumstances.

Is escapism a valid life coping mechanism?  We don’t really get an answer to this as far as I can tell either.  Throughout the story, Quentin uses escapism and detachment to shield himself from the outside world, but I’m not sure whether or not Grossman ultimately believes this is a good thing or a bad thing…

Be that as it may, I have to admit that I like the world that Grossman creates; he just doesn’t take it far enough.  I enjoyed the parts of the book in which Grossman starts to explore the underlying philosophies of the reality he is trying to create, the basis for magic and its place in the world.  Sadly, these are few and far between.  In fact, overall, the narrative really felt forced throughout most of the book, as if Grossman knew he had to get from one event to another to move the plot along, but didn’t really know how to make that happen.

What the reader really is left with is 1) a coming of age story in which the main character never really comes of age and 2) no resolution to the question of the validity of escapism as a way of coping with the world.  Also, annoyingly sophomoric use of grittier elements.

Ultimately, I think that it was the promising potential of the world Grossman creates that kept me interested.

PS – Grossman’s overuse of one-off, obscure vocabulary was a bit annoying.  Anyone else feel me on this one?

The cover art that appears as part of this review remains under the protection of the original copyright owner.  It is used here in accordance with fair use guidelines.  If you are the copyright owner and you would like this image removed, please contact me.