The Magicians by Lev Grossman started out as a really tough read for me. I had attempted to read the first book in the trilogy no less than three times before I finally decided to just power through. Melissa PROMISED me that it would get better so I trusted her opinion and she was right. Since The Magicians has debuted, I’ve heard people pitch it to me as adult Harry Potter so perhaps my expectations were too high? Once I got about 60 pages in and realized that was just not going to happen, I was able to focus more on Quentin and Alice and the other characters. I have some mixed feelings on the book overall but I am glad that I read it.
One of the reasons The Magicians did not immediately pull me in is because the beginning chapters of the book (too many of them) are spent detailing how Quentin gets to enroll in Brakebills magic school. There wasn’t even a significant amount of world-building during this time which is why I think the beginning half was such a struggle to get through. Once Quentin actually got to school, the book is an easier read. Sort of. The story gets much more interesting, but it’s a rather depressing read. I’ve been told that it keeps getting more depressing as you progress throughout the series and while I’m hesitant because of that, I am interested enough in finding out what’s going to happen that I will be reading the second book, The Magician King.
The main character Quentin is EXTREMELY flawed. This doesn’t necessarily make a book not enjoyable, but his behavior really drove me crazy at some points and I just wanted to hit him in the head and yell “WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?!” He’s really selfish and I hope that he’ll change as the books progress (oh dear it sounds like I’m going to be in an unhealthy relationship with this series). There are some scenes that are BEAUTIFULLY written and action packed which make them thrilling for the reader but that all comes much later in the book. That’s partially why I’m so torn about my feelings. I enjoyed the second half of the story but I cannot forget how much I disliked the first half.
Final Thoughts: The Magicians by Lev Grossman is a challenging and depressing read with a selfish and unlikable main character. About midway though, the book finds it’s footing plot-wise and it becomes a more enjoyable and thrilling read but albeit, still very depressing. The story is written beautifully and I will continue the series but I’m worried it’ll take just as long to get into the second book.
Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn’t real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn’t bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin’s yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they’d imagined. Psychologically piercing and dazzlingly inventive, The Magicians, the prequel to the New York Times bestselling book The Magician King and the #1 bestseller The Magician’s Land, is an enthralling coming-of-age tale about magic practiced in the real world-where good and evil aren’t black and white, and power comes at a terrible price. (via Goodreads)