Quentin Coldwater is brillant but miserable. He's a senior in high school, and a certifiable genius, but he's still secretly obsessed with a series of fantasy novels he read as a kid, about the adventures of five children in a magical land called Fillory. Compared to that, anything in his real life just seems gray and colorless.
Everything changes when Quentin finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the practice of modern sorcery. He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. But something is still missing. Magic doesn't bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he thought it would.
Then, after graduation, he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real. (Summary and book cover courtesy of goodreads.com)
This was a book I had to step back from and stew on a bit before trying to write my review. For starters, Lev Grossman uses heavy-handed allusions to the “Harry Potter” and “Chronicles of Narnia” series nonstop in the book supposedly as tribute. Instead, these “allusions” made the book feel extremely unoriginal to me - granted there were a few unique aspects. Additionally, rather than “tribute”, reading the book felt like reading the mockery of a middle school child making fun something they secretly love to seem “cool”. As another reviewer put it:
The prevailing themes of this book are nihilism, ennui and self-absorption. When it comes down to it, Quentin sucks as a person. He refuses to believe in his own happiness even as he claims to pursue happiness around every corner (and ample opportunity is constantly dropped in his lap). I could put up with this, but for the fact that there was very little plot. The book consisted of rambling story-telling with no major purpose to the telling until the very last chapters. I will grant Mr. Grossman points for finding a way to finish the book which almost has me interested to continuing the series. I think Grossman is a fantastic writer, but unfortunately missed the target on a story to go along with his skill.
Rating: 2 stars!
Who should read it? People curious about the hype or for reading just for the pleasure of reading.
Want to read the whole series?
- The Magician King (The Magicians #2)
- The Magician’s Land (The Magicians #3)