I recently finished reading this book. Here is the synopsis from GoodReads:
Mixing the magic of beloved children's fantasy classics (from Narnia and Oz to Harry Potter and Earthsea) with the sex, excess, angst, and anticlimax of life in college and beyond, Lev Grossman's Magicians reimagines modern-day fantasy for grownups. Quentin Coldwater lives in a state of perpetual melancholy, privately obsessed with his childhood books about the enchanted land of Fillory. When he’s admitted to the surreptitious Brakebills Academy for an education in magic, Quentin finds mastering spells is tedious (and love is even more fraught). He also discovers his power has thrilling potential--though it's unclear what he should do with it once he's moved with his new magician cohorts to New York City. Then they discover the magical land of Fillory is real and launch an expedition to use their powers to set things right in the kingdom--which, naturally, turns out to be a much murkier proposition than expected. The Magicians breathes life into a cast of characters you want to know--if the people you want to know are charismatic, brilliant, complex, flawed magicians--and does what Quentin claims books never really manage to do: "get you out, really out, of where you were and into somewhere better. " Or if not better, at least a heck of a lot more interesting. --Mari Malcolm
I'm going to start with the positive (and there ain't much of it). Lev Grossman's writing style is very witty. It's fresh, with quirky cadences and interesting word choices. I liked reading the phrases, they flowed quite nicely. This, actually, makes me even angrier with the book, because, if the author had been more careful with the plot, it would have been a wonderful story.
Which brings me to the chaos that is the plot line, or lack thereof. Ok, we all know the gist of this: awkward young man feels like he doesn't belong and then finds out he can do magic and is instantly admitted to a prestigious wizard school. This has been done and redone in the past few years, obviously because of Harry Potter. I have no qualms about books with similarities like this, but only if they are done well.
This one was not.
The book is mainly chopped off in two parts: Quentin's (the main character) magical training which lasts way too long considering the length of the book, and then the part where supposedly the real action of the story takes place, in the alternate universe of Fillory (a cheap imitation of Narnia). This section of the book is ridiculously short and it gives the book a lopsided feel to it. The ending is hastily thrown together as if the author had run out of time.
One of the main, huge, problems with Grossman's creation is the horrible characters he made. Not one of them is likable and produced any response in me but annoyance and boredom. Quentin's lack of interest in everything gets very, very annoying very quickly. None of them grow, mature, in any way, which leaves me wondering why I even bothered reading. If not one of the characters got ANYTHING out of their experiences, how can I?
The antagonist is a bit of a joke who appears for the first time in a random fashion that is never explained. He then reappears at the end to provide the climactic moment that failed completely to create suspense or anything else. When you don't care about the characters it's hard to muster up sympathy or worry for them.
As you can tell, I truly disliked this book I was ready to love it, because hello, it's about MAGIC, but no, it was a joke.
I read it as the September book for our book club community.livejournal.com/readwonderland/
1 out of 5 Stars