Mostly use audio books in planes these days. Know I really like a book when I find myself with earphones still on from home to hotel
Occasionally you come across an author who seems more interested in seeming clever with his wordsmith than being a good storyteller. The prose in the Magicians is constantly constantly constantly being interrupted by some of the most idiotic and out of place thoughts. Example, as you're running for your life from a hoard of creatures intent on killing you in an underground lair in a magical land, you slide across a table and think how that's like sliding across a Firebird car - who would really think that? The problem is these constant, random distractions seem to have no purpose - they don't propel the story. They don't explore the characters. They simply seem to be there because it might make the author seem clever. Way too little attention was placed on the art of telling a good story - in fact, the story itself seems very unoriginal.
Lev Grossman liberally grabs from previous fantasy-like universes like Potter and Narnia, makes a few adjustments and then populates the whole "new" world with some of the most absolute unlikable and objectionable characters he could think of. Not a single character seems able to have a pleasant thought or do a good deed. Previous reviewers seem to think this an "adult" version of Potter. I guess "adult" is defined as a story populated with vile characters lacking any kind of basic morality. These characters are depressingly unhappy from page 1 for no apparent reason and act out against other people and each other simply on this basic, silly conceit.
At the core, the primary fault I have with the book is its extremely poor construction. The stages/periods in the book seem only half woven together. You rip ideas from other universes and only weakly attempt to place them in your own? Throw-away moments and random plot points fill the book. You just sit and ask WHY? constantly in this novel.
Gen-Xer, software engineer, and lifelong avid reader. Soft spots for sci-fi, fantasy, and history, but I'll read anything good.
I really enjoyed this book, which I listened to. Imagine taking the characters from Harry Potter, and changing them from wide-eyed pre-adolescents to jaded young adults with perfect SAT scores. Then change Hogwarts to the equivalent of an insular small college, where magic is about as difficult, theoretical, and unglamorous as an engineering degree. Then change the magic world itself from one that has clear lines of good and evil to one whose meaning and purpose is a question for philosophers. Finally, add a sardonic sense of humor and a few ironic twists on certain beloved fantasy series.
Grossman’s protagonist is a boy named Quentin, who’s depressive, cynical, and a bit of a loner. His happiest memory in life comes from getting lost as a child in a series of fantasy novels set in a world called Fillory (an obvious stand-in for CS Lewis’s Narnia books). To Quentin, everything in real life has fallen short of that unattainable ideal, even, paradoxically, the experience of becoming a real-life magician. After an anti-climactic graduation into a world without heroic quests, without a Voldemort to fight, what is there to do but throw yourself into an aimless 20-something life of drinking, sex, and dinner parties? Quentin’s friends, if they can be called that, have their own self-absorbed hang-ups.
If such characters sound like a bit of a downer, they are. Yet their world and its existential angst felt vivid and alive to me. Some of it even reminded me of my own early 20s. Not too many writers do something as creative as combining a magical fantasy novel with a biting post-modern coming-of-age novel, and Grossman does a pretty good job with the whole conceit.
Not that I thought The Magicians was a perfect novel. For one thing, he leaves a few details of his world oddly undefined. For example, Quentin’s parents are so barely present in the story that they might as well be the adults in Charlie Brown. And why do Quentin and his freshman classmates accept the revelation that magic is real with so little apparent reflection? And why does Brakebills do so little in the way of career placement? A few stretches of condensed time, in which we get from point A to point B without much explanation, broke the flow a bit.
Still, in spite of the uneven takeoff, once the story got into the air, I liked where it went. The last third of the book, in which the characters venture into a newly discovered "dark CS Lewis" world, feels slightly less original, but effectively subverts the notion of a heroic quest as a fairytale romp where everything comes out right in the end. In the last pages, after the horrors of a magical battle, our flawed hero finally begins to wake up and show signs of maturing. To me, the possibilities were intriguing. If you stuck around this far, you might find your appetite whet for the next book.
avid audiobook listener, sociopath, nerd.
This was entertaining enough, but it was so whiny in places that I had to start another book before I could finish this one. If you ignore the whiny teenage self-pitying bits, the rest of it was quite good.
I give Lev props for introducing a school that teaches magic with the Harry Potter phenomenon coming to its sad end, but I think the point could have been delivered in about half the time.
This book is 17 hours long, and because of that, there are large portions of the reading where you want to skip ahead and say "get to the point."
The book altogether is alright, however I don't know that I would recommend it to someone that has a passion for the Harry Potter and Narnia universes.
Narration was decent
To all of the bad reviewers all I can say is "pfffffffffffftttt!!" Its a fantastic, darkly funny book. I'm hoping like crazy that Grossman has a sequel out sooner than later.
Utilizing old stories to weave a new story is fine,storytellers have been doing this forever, and for this book it worked great, but Q was hard to relate to. He is one of these guys that wins the lottery and then ruins his life with the money. Still if Grossman writes a part 2 I'll listen, because you want Q to succeed.
The reader in the book was the highlight! The characters were unlikeable and were seriously flawed, by the end of the book I was hoping they would all just die, just to deliver them from their pain of living. I kept listening just hoping for some reprive but none came. Based off the reviews this book has recieved from major publications I had High hopes, now i have to question what were the reviewers thinking when they said they loved the book. Save yourself time and pain and skip this one.
Be warned: this book is nothing original. Basically, it's a very very depressing version of Harry Potter, Narnia, MirrorMask, City of Bones, and a whole host of other books rolled into one. It was very disappointing and hard to listen to.
It's so pretentious!
Good lord - I can't imagine the agony suffered by anyone seated next to this author at a dinner party!
A fantasy chunky soup! Surprisingly well written. I went in expecting nothing, and was pleasantly surprised to find an interesting story about kids who go to school to learn magic, grow up and have to deal with life. Same as everyone else.
Full of very adult situations and adult language, so don't give this to your tween niece as a gift.
It started off a bit slow, but it was absolutely worth it. So many writers in this genre use English so clumsily, I hesitate to try new books in the fantasy category.
Lev Grossman evidently, was not educated at some community college in Slapcrotch North Wisconsin. This guy really knows his way around the English language, and without being long winded.
Give 'er a whirl, I think you'll like it.