Wednesday, February 15, 2017

THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman

If Harry Potter and friends were a little too squeaky clean for you, this book might be just the ticket, especially if you love fantasy novels in general.  Quentin Coldwater unexpectedly finds himself at Brakebills College, which, like Hogwarts, is a school of magic for those with magical gifts.  Unlike Hogwarts, there’s a whole lot of drinking going on and a decent amount of sex.  Quentin is a melancholy teenager with a bit of attitude and an obsession with a children’s book series about an alternate universe called Fillory—clearly akin to Narnia.  This novel has some high-flying moments, both literally and figuratively, but Grossman is no Rowling.  I found the Harry Potter books to be entertaining, suspenseful and very clever, whereas this is more about agonizing over how to have a fulfilling life when you can conjure up anything you want.  For me, the kids are definitely more compelling characters while in school and still learning the extents to which they can manipulate the universe than after they become adults with too much time on their hands.  There has to be a quest, and there is…of sorts—after graduation.  However, it’s more of an exploration and ultimately a dangerous adventure.  Although a specific goal does emerge, it gets tangled up with a spate of strange creatures that don’t seem to have any real purpose other than to instigate mayhem.  This novel was just not my thing, so I won’t be investing any time in the sequels or the TV series.

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