Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Magicians

I'm back, at long last! For a while, I've been somewhere north of home, in a dark realm where no computer access lies. So now I'm back, and boy do I have a lot of stuff that needs to be reviewed! Before the month is out, I'll be looking at another Classic of the Month, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, in addition to a bunch of books. Oh, and a little movie, I don't know, called Inception. (By the way, see the movie now, if you haven't already. The review will just be me saying that in a thousand more words.)

Here we go, the first book I've ever read from pretty new author Lev Grossman, the book that made a huge splash last year... The Magicians.

Quentin Coldwater is an unremarkable genius. Sort of. Just go with it. He's absurdly attached to an old series of five novels set in the magical world of Fillory, and he's bored to tears with life as is. And then, one chilly day, he stumbles into a fantastic new reality, a reality that might be perfect for him. But the world of magic is not as pristine as what is depicted in the Fillory books, and Quentin is in for a rude awakening.

This book was too much fun to be expressed in words. Grossman wears his influences proudly, but never lets them become distracting to the overall effect. In fact, they contribute to the fun vibes. The Magicians is marketed as Harry Potter grown up, but it's more than that, a deeper character study set in a bizarre yet whimsical universe. The pace just whizzes by, much like The Warded Man, and yet Grossman gives the characters a lot of time to breathe. This seems like a paradox, but hey, it's magic.

There are a few nagging things that bring the book down in my estimation, however. The climax is far too heavy and melancholy for the rest of the book, and therefore makes the end feel almost incomplete. The emotional ebb and tide is a bit off, something I hope Grossman will fix in The Magician King, due out next year. And I will be buying it. Because stuff this much fun (the majority of the time) is hard to come by, it will be one of next year's most anticipated reads. It's not often such a quality mix of literary fiction and fantasy can be achieved.

My rating: 9/10

Coming Soon: Classic of the Month.

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