I’m sure a lot of you out there aren’t the biggest fans of fantasy. I get it, I’ve only recently discovered an appreciation for it myself. However, I’m pretty sure that most of you have read the Harry Potter books and/or The Chronicles of Narnia. I’d lay money that at some point you’ve thought about how friggin rad it would be if magic was real – you could clean with the flick of a wand and fly places and talk to a lion and hang out with a sexy James McAvoy faun – FRIGGIN RAD. What we don’t think about it is how there could be a serious downside to all of this, and not just in a good v. evil Voldemort sort of way. It is the darker side of these worlds that Lev Grossman explores in his latest book, The Magicians, which was fan-freaking-tastic.
Quentin is a super smart teenager trying to figure out where to go to college and what he wants to do with his life. He’s kind of annoying in a mopey teen sort of way – you know, the “poor pitiful me, I’m smart and affluent and have so many opportunities, how depressing” crap that makes you want to pull a Ghost Dad and reach through the book and strangle him. Anyway, on his way home one day he suddenly finds himself at a mysterious school where he’s immediately whisked away to take a crazy exam. The school turns out to be Brakebills, a school of magic in upstate New York. As Quentin starts to live his life dream and learn magic, he comes to discover that living your dreams isn’t always that awesome. Especially because being a miserable person doesn’t automatically change when you are in a new setting. Nothing is held back, it’s a story about young adults (the characters are late teens/early twenties) that all live together in a magical isolated world – there’s drinking and drugs and funsexytime (and not-so-funsexytime) and the fuck word and violence throughout. This is most definitely a book for grown-ups.
Lev Grossman does such a good job with this. He had a book that came out a couple of years ago, Codex, that was good-ish, but I really disliked the ending. I was worried that The Magicians would fall short in the same way – but all that worry was for naught because the ending was great, just like the rest of the book. I loved the world he built and the characters who lived in it. There’s incredible attention to detail without the story getting bogged down and this allows the magic to be astonishing and realistic at the same time. And it’s so cohesive! Tiny little details in the beginning come back and tie in with the greater story and there’s nothing that doesn’t need to be in there. A well told, well edited, interesting, engrossing story – what more can a gal want in a book?