Sunday, September 18, 2011

Number 15 this year is The Magicians by Lev Grossman. This book really is Harry Potter x Narnia but written for adults. I know that probably sounds really banal, but did I love this book? Damn right I did.

The main character, one Quentin, is such a perfect study of 17 year old teenaged ennui that it's almost hilarious, but not. Just like real teenaged ennui. He's incredibly smart and incredibly unhappy, and obsessed with a series of children's books about the imaginary country Fillory (this would be the Narnia stand-in). When Quentin finds himself suddenly accepted to a school for learning magic called Brakebills (this would be the Harry Potter part), Quentin thinks that finally, he can be happy, he'll be learning something few learn, and maybe, maybe he can go to Fillory.

But unlike Hogwarts, Brakebills comes across as much tougher. Cause you see, in The Magicians, magic is more like computer science or advanced chemistry or electrical engineering. You have to be prepared for long, hard study and practice to master, complete with incantation, confounding variables, deep thought, passionate virtuosity, and great precision. It's kinda awesome.

The first parts of the novel deal with Quentin's time at Brakebills and the weirdness that goes on there (the 4th year trial is particularly wicked), and the various characters. Quentin doesn't really find himself much happier, despite everything. He still hangs on to the idea that maybe one day finding their way into Fillory will make him happy.

Fillory, when they get there, is everything that they never thought it would be. It was brutal and and dangerous and in their arrogance, everything goes completely wrong. Once again, also awesome.

I have to go out and the sequel to this right away.