Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Magicians - Lev Grossman

This is another wonderful book given to me by my friend Eleanor. It's one of those books that sat on my shelf for a few months and when I finally read it, I was just amazed that this gem had been there for so long without my understanding of what a great story it contained. The Magicians is part-Harry Potter and part-Narnia. I've also heard it referred to as part Brett Easton Ellis, which sounds about right. It's the story of a misfit who suddenly finds himself at a secret school learning magic. The kids around him are misfits - often depressed and self-harming individuals. Quentin, the main character is also obsessed with a science-fiction fantasy from his childhood that told the story of a made-up world, that perhaps wasn't as made up as he thought it might be. Subject matter wise, this book seems like it is for the Harry Potter age-group, but the language is strong, the alcohol flows freely, and the kids are a little too disillusioned with the world for me to recommend this to any kid younger than 16. The kids take such liberties with the imbibing that part of me wondered whether the entire book was supposed to just be Quentin's fantasy world concocted in a drunked stupor. I really enjoyed the first two-thirds of the book which takes place at the school of magic - I found the characters ineresting and I was interested in where everything was headed. The final third, however, went a little overboard in the science-fiction realm, and I found it difficult to follow - not because it was particularly confusing, but just because I don't like it when things get too magic and warlocks. Despite being semi-depressed reading about these kids who felt their lives were so boring that they had to get wasted each night, this was a book that made me happy to be reading - and just a reminder of why I keep turning the pages day after day.

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