Monday, November 29, 2010

Review: The Magicians

Right off the bat, I'll say that I really liked The Magicians. Yes, it feels a little like the author, Lev Grossman, took a dozen popular books and mashed them together. But, at least for me, I thought it came out delicious and not derivative.

The Magicians is the story of an ordinary high school student, Quentin, who finds out he has magical abilities and goes to a school for magic (see: Harry Potter, et al). Once there, Quentin meets up with a group of like-minded students, all equally interested in magic and fun. They learn that there are other worlds (hints of The Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones, perhaps?) and, after some aimless young adult wandering, decide to find out if the magic land of their favorite childhood books (clearly The Chronicles of Narnia) is real.

Unlike these books, however, The Magicians is decidedly written for an adult audience. For one thing, the group of friends reminded me more of the murderous Bacchanalians in The Secret History by Donna Tartt than Harry and his buddies. For another, there is a distinct pathos about all of them. What's the point in trying when everything can be gotten by lifting a finger?

I think that anyone who read the Narnia books as voraciously as I (and Quentin, under another name) did will really enjoy this book. Or you might find it to be derivative garbage and hate it. But it's worth the read to find out.

Buy The Magicians: A Novel by Lev Grossman on Amazon.

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