Book Review: The Magicians

The Magicians The Magicians by Lev Grossman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Every now and then I read a book that I just can’t put down. This is one of those. The writing is literary and fascinating, the characters complex, the subject intriguing–I don’t know . . . Everything about this book worked for me.

It’s basically your standard YA fantasy at heart, but approached from a much more reality-based angle. What if the magical world the main character discovers doesn’t change his life for the better? What if the problems he had before–character flaws, unmet dreams, etc–still exist? And when you think about it, doesn’t that make sense? Why should walking through a wardrobe suddenly make everything else okay? Grossman has depicted a world where magic is very real, in all senses of the word.

The book is by no means a candy coated experience. It’s not a children’s book in the slightest, despite the fact that it covers the same sort of school experience as the Harry Potter series did. It feels very much like you’re reading a Work of Literature that happens to be fantasy, but I liked it all the more for that. I’d be interested to hear what other people thought of this one. I could see some people really disliking it–but for me, it worked great. Plus, it was the sort of book that makes you want to talk to other people about it once you’ve finished.

So. Talk.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Magicians”

  1. I very much enjoyed this book as well. There were parts where I was biting my nails, however, because of the dumb decisions the main protagonist made. I understand why the author had him get immersed in the culture of drugs and alcohol–Q was just trying to find happiness any way he could. But boy, when he did the big No No, I was very angry at him. My first reaction was I wanted the author to smooth things over so that everything could be right again.
    And then I thought: wait a second. Q did something HORRIBLE. He needs to pay the consequences of his actions.
    And he does. Which, in the end, is why I liked this book. Too many novels gloss over the consequences of characters’ awful actions, making seriously wrong decisions seem less serious than they really are. Characters in some fantasies kill left and right without feeling the burden of what they’re doing, yet we still root for them, even though–in the real world–their actions would be construed as terrible crimes.
    But Magicians dealt with consequences in a very real way. Almost in a moral way, and my emotions were pulled because of it. I felt pain reading this novel, and at first I didn’t like so strong of emotions.
    So, in the end, reading the book was like an emotional exercise for me and very enjoyable.

  2. I agree completely. Grossman did such a good job with his characters–you really felt like you knew them by the end, and you wanted them to all make good choices and fix themselves. But that’s not how life works, alas–and Grossman stayed true to that.

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