Title: The Magicians
Author: Lev Grossman
I think, perhaps, I give out too many 5 star ratings. Maybe I need to think more closely about what deserves such a perfect rating. Many books that I give 5 stars do have their flaws. Does that mean they deserve 4 stars? I don't want to put anyone off reading a book because I gave it a less than perfect score...but what does perfect really mean?
I'm asking these questions because I find myself wanting to give The Magicians 6 stars, simply because it was really that good. Don't get me wrong, I loved the Percy Jackson books, and some of them really are perfectly crafted, but this book. Well, I just don't know where to begin. It was one of the best fantasy books I've ever read. Please don't worry, all you purists; I wouldn't put this ahead of Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, or even Harry Potter. However, as an adult fantasy novel, it was just incredible. I've never read something from the genre that I found so relatable. Perhaps it's the modern setting, perhaps it's the teen characters. I just connected with Quentin so easily and could not put the book down.
The Magicians begins in modern-day Brooklyn, with Quentin preparing for an Ivy League interview. As he makes his way home from the disastrous meeting, he finds himself in the gardens of prestigious school of magic, to which he is soon admitted. Quentin has been dreaming about magical worlds all his life and now he is one! Alas, the world of magic is not all he thought it would be, and soon Quentin learns that the trials he faced before magic are not so different from the one's he's faced with now. The book spans a 4-5 year period, in which Quentin goes to Brakebills school of magic and then enters the real world, culminating in a journey to the land of his favorite childhood books, Fillory. As I said, not everything in this new world is what Quentin expected, and the book chronicles not just his adventures, but also how he comes to terms with them.
I suppose The Magicians hit close to home because I too have always wished there was a world other than this one. No worries folks; I'm not about to go do anything crazy because I can't live in this world if there's no magic. I'm just saying I could relate to the idea that fantasy novels, though I love them and wouldn't have the same life without them, create a strange sense of hope for us loyalists. I go through my life thinking I'm just waiting for that something big to happen to me. If my experience of life turns out to be anything like Quentin's, maybe a big surprise won't make that much of a difference at all.
Price: $16.00, paperback