Daily Archives: August 22, 2009

Lev Grossman’s The Magicians

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I read Lev Grossman’s The Magicians a while ago and have been eagerly awaiting publication so I could see what others thought.  Now that it is out here’s my goodreads review for those who want to know what I thought!

This novel begins with a disaffected teen, the sad and unhappy Quentin Coldwater, off to a college interview. But the interview never happens; instead Quentin ends up at Brakebills, an upstate New York Bard-Vassar-like college of magic. There he learns much about sorcery and eventually becomes part of the Physical Kids, hanging out in their clubhouse, the antithesis of the Gryffindor common room. Sex, drugs, alcohol are copious in this book’s world and the Physical Kids’ intensity reminded me of the tight collegiate group in Donna Tartt’s Secret History.

After graduation they end up dissolute in NYC and the feeling now becomes much like Jay McInerney’s Bright Lights, Big City or some other volume full of unhappy, drunk twenty-somethings. But unlike those books, the young unhappy adults in this one are magicians. As for Quentin, even as he two (or possibly three)-times his girlfriend and drinks himself repeatedly into oblivion, there is still a yearning for something bigger, something more. And when that something happens the book gets mighty dark. For it turns out that Fillory, a Narnia-like world from a beloved series of children’s books, is real. All too real. What happens once Quentin and the other Physical Kids end up there is disturbing, moving, and kept me completely engaged to the last page.

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