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An interesting take on the youngster who learns of a fantasy realm genre. It is a good read, but much of the character interaction seems forced into a middle-school or high-school clique mold. There is a lot of superfluous chatter that doesn't make the story any more or less interesting, but leaves a lot of virtual question marks for the author throughout the book. I would put The Magicians in the same class as the novel Wicked. 

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A lonely teenage boy is picked from obscurity and begins to attend a magical school in Lev Grossman’s 2009 bestseller, The Magicians. Sounds familiar, right? Comparisons to the Harry Potter series may spring to mind, but this is no Hogwarts.
Quentin Coldwater, high school genius, is a depressed young man who exists in our world while desiring to live in Fillory, a fictional, Narnia-type world that he reads about in books. Quentin is much more Holden Caulfield than Harry Potter when he finds himself wandering through a portal that leads him to the entrance of Brakebills, a college dedicated to teaching magic. Knowing magic is real and dedicating himself to its study seems to be the answer to Quentin’s prayers—he’s no longer alone in the world.
The Magicians is two books in one. The first focuses on Quentin’s education and his navigation of the magical world that exists all around us. The years at Brakebills are the most charming part of the story. Readers will be enchanted by the magical college and the contemporary fantasy that Grossman weaves.
Teachers we meet, but never really get to know, help students learn their spells. Hints are dropped about their colorful backgrounds and achievements, but readers are left wondering about the staff’s origins. Meanwhile, a trip to Brakebills South gives a peek into another magic school—a much darker version, where students are pushed beyond measure by a sadist teacher, whom we yearn to know more about.
During his school years Quentin makes a group of friends (or at least a circle of other misanthropes like himself), and together they drink, smoke, cook fantastic meals, and have sex while defining themselves as magicians. Still, character development is a weaker part of the story. Very few layers are revealed, and characters become one dimensional: the punk, the gay guy, the fat kid, the innocent nerd, and the party girl. Quentin himself is always depressed, but he never knows why. He and friends, however, are not afraid to ask the questions that many fantasy readers have always wondered: when you have absolute power, what’s left? When you can do whatever you want, how should you proceed in life?
The second part of the story contributes some answers to their questions. After months of acting like spoiled rich kids, Quentin and his friends essentially hit bottom. With no direction, their post-graduation world becomes one big drug-filled party. They need something to save the group of lost souls from themselves, and it comes in the form of a quest. The graduates are given the opportunity to travel into another world—the world of Quentin’s obsession, Fillory. As they enter this new world, the novel begins to have much more traditional fantasy elements, though some readers may consider this a caricature of Narnia.
Grossman creates a very deep world in The Magicians, but he only skims the surface. The concept of flawed people dealing with power is intriguing after the usual over-the-top heroes of fantasy novels, but you have to care about characters to want to keep reading a series. The characters remain fairly unlikeable throughout the book, and there may be too many similarities to other fantasy series for some readers.
The Magicians is not for every fantasy fan, as it alternates frustrating reality with flawed dreams, but if you’re a fan of coming-of-age stories and would like to take a peek into the magical worlds around us, this may be a book you’ll love.
 

User Review - Flag as inappropriate

This is a fun enough book about a disenchanted teenager going to magic college. It really is like Harry Potter with higher bit of verisimilitude and teen angst when the action is taking place in non-magical settings.
It was an easy, enjoyable read, but I did not find it compelling or captivating like, say, I did the Narnia books in my youth.
 

Review: The Magicians (The Magicians #1)

User Review  - Desmond Charles Reid - Goodreads

Quentin Coldwater is basically your average nerd, who also happens to be a high school math genius. With disinterested parents, a crush on the girlfriend of his best friend, he leaves behind his ... Read full review

Review: The Magicians (The Magicians #1)

User Review  - Jakyro - Goodreads

I started reading this because of the cool concept it provided; things I've read were “Harry Potter for adults” and “Harry Potter on downers”. It sounded like a really interesting take on (urban ... Read full review

Review: The Magicians (The Magicians #1)

User Review  - Nicole - Goodreads

This was a strange one for me. Going into it, I fully expected to hate it because I'd heard MANY other people complain about the kinds of things that are usually red flags for me. Yes those things ... Read full review

Review: The Magicians (The Magicians #1)

User Review  - Curtis - Goodreads

After arriving for a college interview to find his interviewer dead, Quentin Coldwater is about to find that's one of the least surprising things that will happen to him that day. He is invited to and ... Read full review

Review: The Magicians (The Magicians #1)

User Review  - Ericka - Goodreads

This book took me quite a while to read. D; I really enjoyed the magic school element and liked the fresh and relatable perspective. But for some reason the last third or so of the book, I had little ... Read full review

Review: The Magicians (The Magicians #1)

User Review  - Rachel Beeler - Goodreads

more like 2.5 Read full review

Review: The Magicians (The Magicians #1)

User Review  - Chris - Goodreads

In some ways, this book reads as something of a response to the heightened interest in magical fiction of the last decade (Harry Potter, renewed interest in the Chronicles of Narnia) instead of an ... Read full review


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