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Review: The Magicians

November 3, 2009

the magicians front proof.indd

Quentin Coldwater is a high school senior, making plans for college.  He has a crush on a friend of his and, even though he’s the smartest person in his class, he feels unsettled and unsatisfied.  When he goes to interview for acceptance to Princeton, he finds his interviewer dead and he’s handed a manila envelope.  The contents of the envelope cause Quentin to discover a whole hidden world and he finds himself admitted to Brakebills – a college for magicians.

At first, Brakebills seems like the answer to all of Quentin’s prayers, but he finds that he doesn’t quite fit in even there.

It’s hard to say more about the plot of The Magicians by Lev Grossman without giving too much of the story away and I really try to avoid spoilers.   The book follows Quentin, and his fellow magicians, through Brakebills and after when they make a startling discovery.

I was excited when I found out that my book club had selected The Magicians, since I’d heard it described as “Harry Potter for adults,” but was disappointed when the book didn’t draw me in like I’d hoped it would. I felt like there was too much unnecessary descriptive text in the book and a lot of plot lines that were brought up and then dropped.  The characters seemed stagnant to me and I kept waiting for something to happen.

There were a lot of references to other fantasy novels and I did pick up on a few of them, but most of them were over my head since I haven’t read many of the classic fantasies.  Most of the other members of my book club picked up on more of them than I did.  This book didn’t really work for me, but I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I’m not the target audience.  The one member of our book club who is a fantasy geek said that both she and her husband loved The Magicians.

Lev Grossman has a degree in literature from Harvard and currently works as the book critic for TimeThe Magicians is his third novel.

Review copy provided by Penguin.   I am an Amazon Associate.
36 Comments leave one →
  1. November 3, 2009 6:19 am

    Even though I could have done without a lot of the book, I really enjoyed his writing and would like to read something else by him. I’m not sure CODEX would be the right book so I will wait ti see what he comes up with next.

  2. November 3, 2009 6:41 am

    This is the first book I have heard of by him. I do enjoy fantasy books and I loved the idea of ‘Harry Potter for adults’. Might give it a go.

  3. November 3, 2009 6:47 am

    I was excited when I read that this one was “Harry Potter for adults”…but now I am having 2nd thoughts! I so hoped this one was as good as that line suggested.

  4. November 3, 2009 6:56 am

    It’s always disappointing when a book you’ve looked forward to doesn’t live up to your hopes. But it does happen, hopefully not very often.

  5. November 3, 2009 7:37 am

    Seems like there’s a lot of disappointment going around about this one!

  6. November 3, 2009 7:43 am

    It’s too bad you didn’t enjoy this one. I read Codex and liked it so I’m going to give it a try.

  7. November 3, 2009 8:36 am

    The premise of this sounds intriguing. Too bad it wasn’t more!

  8. November 3, 2009 8:41 am

    I am a fantasy geek, and I didn’t much care for this book either; too much angst-ing with not enough actually happening.

  9. November 3, 2009 8:49 am

    Great review!!! I’m only about 100 pages into it and I put it down. I’m hoping to get back to it but I have to admit that I’m not exactly drawn in!

  10. November 3, 2009 9:35 am

    As Fyrefly said: just not enough happening — well not enough original happenings. And I love fantasy. But the writing itself was fine and I would give Grossman another chance.

  11. November 3, 2009 9:39 am

    I’m not sure I would pick up this book either. “There were a lot of references to other fantasy novels and I did pick up on a few of them, but most of them were over my head since I haven’t read many of the classic fantasies.” I’m right with you here. I probably would miss more than 50 percent of the references.

  12. November 3, 2009 9:39 am

    I haven’t read too many fantasy books, especially classics, so this one probably wouldn’t work out for me either. Thanks for the review Kathy.

  13. November 3, 2009 9:57 am

    I haven’t read many good things about this one. I’m probably going to give it a pass.

  14. November 3, 2009 10:25 am

    Very fun sounding book!

  15. November 3, 2009 11:09 am

    The story line sounds good, just not for me. I stopped when you said Harry Potter for adults. Sorry.

  16. November 3, 2009 11:30 am

    I love fantasy, but I’m still on the fence about this one.

  17. November 3, 2009 12:50 pm

    I’m sorry it didn’t work for you 😦

    I’m not specifically into fantasy either and I suspect I won’t pull out many of the references either. I’m still going to give it a try to see if I like it but may push it further down my list.

  18. November 3, 2009 3:06 pm

    Sorry this book did not work for you. I don’t generally like fantasy, but I liked this book quite a bit.

  19. November 3, 2009 4:08 pm

    Very thoughtful review. I, too, had a difficult time with this book, and though there were brief moments where my interest was resurrected, I just never got pulled into it as I had hoped. *sigh*

  20. November 3, 2009 7:45 pm

    I’ve this book in my pile but just haven’t got around to reading it yet. I decided to wait on reading this book.

  21. November 3, 2009 10:38 pm

    I was disappointed, too. Although I will likely read the sequel just to see if Quentin redeems himself.

    • Jessica Coleman permalink
      November 4, 2009 5:42 pm

      Sequel??? Is there really a sequel?

  22. November 4, 2009 12:03 am

    I’m sorry this book didn’t work out for you Kathy. I’ve read mixed reviews of it. And I really liked the cover….lol
    I appreciate your honesty =o)

  23. November 4, 2009 3:55 am

    I plan to read this in the next few days.

  24. November 4, 2009 6:12 am

    I have this book out from the library. I am curious about it, so I hope to get to it very soon!

  25. November 4, 2009 9:32 am

    You gave it a try. That’s all you can do. Sorry it didn;t work for you. There was another book yearss ago, that was billed as Potter for adults, and I didn’t like that one either. BORING 🙂

  26. November 4, 2009 3:07 pm

    As much as I like the premise, I suspect that this book is not for me either.

  27. November 4, 2009 3:49 pm

    Argh, I’ve seen such mixed reviews for this book, I can’t decide whether I want to read it or not. That should probably mean no, I guess, since I’m not exactly lacking for reading material.

  28. November 4, 2009 5:45 pm

    This is on my TBR list, but based on your review, I may not be in a hurry to buy it. Thanks for the honest review!

  29. November 4, 2009 8:55 pm

    Meh, I agree with you on this one. I read it before it came out in the states and thought for sure, that my take would be the popular one. It turns out a fair amount of people did like it but the negative or just bland reviews are finally coming in. It just wasn’t my style.

  30. November 4, 2009 9:41 pm

    Thanks for the honest review. I don’t think this book is for me, but then again, I’m not big on fantasy.

  31. November 4, 2009 9:56 pm

    Thanks for the honest review–I had this on my tbr list but between your review and the comments, I think it’s coming off.

  32. November 5, 2009 4:02 pm

    I have been reading very negative reviews of this book lately, and have taken it off my wish list. I’m sorry you didn’t like it. It sounds like it could have been a really interesting story, but fell short.

  33. November 6, 2009 4:37 am

    I like the sound of this one. When I see ‘Harry Potter for adults’ it has definitely caught my attention.

  34. November 8, 2009 8:40 pm

    Almost every blogger who reviewed this book has been disappointed. You’re in good company.

  35. November 10, 2009 9:35 am

    Great review. I agree with a lot of your points, though I think I enjoyed it more than you did.

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