Review: The Magicians

The Magicians
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The second star is because the writing wasn’t awful and there were three or so lines that actually got me chuckling.

Otherwise, I hated this book. This is the first book I’ve so actively hated in a long time. Look, it’s even generated a review! So yay?

Now, it’s been sitting on my shelf since just after rode the first wave of popularity (meaning I found it at Costco). And when I first started, I suspected that my high-school self actually might have enjoyed it. Because my high-school self was a terrible, terrible person.

All of the characters are despicable, but especially the narrator Quentin. So whiny, pathetic and useless. I wanted to beat him. From first page to last he didn’t grow at all. Apparently, I’m supposed to believe he was depressed? He apparently started at seventeen and ended at, what, twenty-five? Even younger? He may as well have been fifteen.

Side note: one of my few Harry Potter favorite fan fictions gave one canon character and an OC depression. That story? It was beautiful, and heartbreaking. The characters didn’t go around why are you so depressed, you’re so depressed, look at me, being depressed.

But Quentin existed to waste space. All the female characters were barely characters and rather thin compared to the over-whelming male characters—and I’m not entirely sure what gave me this impression because numerically speaking the numbers were fairly even. But all the named women felt rather auxiliary.

I even hated the world-building. Fillory was just your generic anti-Narnia, and for that, rather inoffensive. Lame, but meh. But the “real world” just…just…I hated it, I hated all the magicans. These magicians can do approximately everything with magic (except, for plot reasons, body modification)—

— and now that I think about it, that’s especially odd to be so common a trope. You may not approve of plastic surgery, or foot binding, or any of the other things cultures have found attractive over the millennia, but it’s clearly been going on a while. Why is that the one thing magic can’t do. Hint: in this case, it’s a naked plot point.&8212;

—but for some reason, magicians in the “real world” do absolutely nothing practical. Well, the narrative mentions that some do, but mostly in a condescending sort of way that doesn’t seem like it’s ever accomplished anything at all.

Oh, and to be a wizard magician, you have to be genius-level smart…but if you never got an invitation, don’t worry, all magicians also have to be profoundly stupid in any useful kind of knowledge. So there’s that.

And the sort of geek-popular references: Harry Potter, Star Trek, Magritte.

I know in the reading I had other complaints, but thanks to this review and my rum-and-coke, I’m feeling pretty good at the moment and can let it go.

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