Title: The Magicians
Author: Lev Grossman
Genre: Fantasy, New Adult
My Rating: 4 stars
“Magic, Quentin discovered, wasn’t romantic at all.
It was grim and repetitive and deceptive.
And he worked his ass off and became very good at it.”
I was on the fence about this series due to the mixed reviews, so when I found myself addicted and binge watching the SciFi Channel version, I decided that I’d finish out the show and then read the books. I really enjoyed watching the show, and I had just as much fun reading the first book. The novel follows a much different path than the show did, and it was a lot of fun seeing this “alternate” version and experiencing all the other things that Quentin and crew ended up doing. As Grossman would say, “the thick plottens”.
– an impromptu trip to space, fountains and buttons that bring you from world to world, a beast that will trade you an extra year of life for a finger
– river nymphs, walking talking trees, a drunk magic bear, bumblebees the size of basketballs, bloodthirsty giraffes
– real characters that have real flaws and make mistakes
– basically no Julia, although I hear we get to see her in book 2
– took too long for a major villain/challenge to present itself; I also wanted more magic and adventure
– this book is super depressing, because Quentin is depressed, and it might be too much for some people
“Quentin knew he wasn’t happy. Why not? He had painstakingly assembled all the ingredients of happiness. He had performed all the necessary rituals, spoken the words, lit the candles, made the sacrifices. But happiness, like a disobedient spirit, refused to come. He couldn’t think what else to do.”
Sometimes it did feel like it took too long for things to happen in the book. It took too long to get to Fillory, too long for Julia to become involved in the story, and too long for the villain to truly emerge. The story felt a little disjointed; like there were a lot of different things that happened and you couldn’t really tell how they all really related or when they would all matter. We were given lots of details, and while it may have seemed a bit excessive, you could tell while reading that it would all eventually matter later on. The narration gave a wistful feel to the story, especially during the times everyone was drinking and enjoying their free time at Brakebills, and as much as I wanted the plot to develop quicker, I still liked reading these slower moments.
The book was very different from where the show took the story, and I’m really glad it played out this way. Aside from some major plot points that stayed consistent, I got to see the characters I love take part in new adventures, or the same adventures in roundabout and different ways. The characters behaved the same in both versions, and that’s something I want to touch on. I read a lot of reviews that mentioned Quentin being an asshole, etc., and I wanted to point out that this is something I appreciated when it came to the story. Quentin is constantly looking for outside happiness, and always tries to use artificial things to make himself feel better. For example, he embraces anger because it is easier than feeling vulnerable, and he uses drugs and alcohol as a crutch. I think this opens up a lot of room for character growth throughout the series. All of the main characters are flawed and have no idea who they are or who they want to be. They make stupid decisions and mistakes, and they’re all trying to figure out how they matter and what to make of themselves in the world; this is a major thing for a lot of young/new adults, and in my opinion it made the book feel more real. Hopefully we’ll get to see everyone grow and change throughout the rest of the novels.