THE MAGICIANS By Lev Grossman
I am not sure if I am getting old and cynical, or if I am starry-eyed and innocent. The last few books I read have rubbed me the wrong way at some point. To be honest, most books do. In fact, I would be rather disappointed if, at some point, I didn’t get annoyed, or even down-right angry at the hero. That “What are you doing?!?” moment right before the hero sets out on the correct path. I dislike heroes that are all good and squeaky-clean, the kind that never make a wrong step, that never question their purpose. On the other hand, I also dislike the protagonist that is never heroic, the one that never gets his head out and does the hero thing. So we come to THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman.
The Magicians is Harry Potter meets angsty teens in some ways—there is magic, there is a school for teaching magic. But where Harry Potter (and sorry, you know that any novel like this will get a comparison with Harry) is light, a joyful adventure at first and then diving into the struggle with coming of age and dealing with destiny, the characters in The Magicians are just, well, a bunch of angsty teens who are really rather annoying. They are not talented, they are not particularly adept, they are a lot whiny. When Quentin Coldwater, the main character, discovers that enchanted land of Fillory that he spent his youth obsessed with it actually real, he and his friends set out to make things right. It sounds magical and amazing, it’s not really.
I think that is the thing about The Magicians that gets me. There is no sense of wonder. And that doesn’t mean they all have to be running around “oohing” and “awing” about everything. There is no real sense of difference, no real sense of a life that has been altered. They continue on much as they were, only with a few more things to angst over. Of course, all of this might be a reaction to the ending. I won’t spoil, but I wasn’t happy.
This book left such an odd taste, I did something I haven’t ever done before, and usually can’t but since this book was published in 2009, I popped onto Amazon to see what other readers had to say. The reviews are all over the map. It’s an interesting phenomenon. A New York Times bestseller and people are saying everything from “it’s Of Mice and Men with teenage wizards” to “why did I buy this?”
The Magicians sequel is already available, and I will be reviewing it next week, so the story does go on. For better? For Worse? That remains to be seen. However, if it continues on in this vein, it could very well be the last of Grossman’s books I’ll read.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars | Publisher: Plume | Pages: 416 | Source: Publisher | Buy on Amazon