Book: The Magicians (The Magicians #1)
Author: Lev Grossman
Original Release Date: 8th Oct 2009
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Blurb: 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. (goodreads blurb)
The Magician’s is split into four sections, so I will be talking about this book in two sections, section one and the rest of the book.
Section one takes up about half go the book and is the hardest part to get through. I struggled through this section, and if the latter half hadn’t have improved I probably would not have finished it. The main problem I had with this part of the book was that it felt fragmented, the time period kept jumping unexpectedly and would throw me off. It topple a while to get used to, and even when I did, I still didn’t enjoy it. Also a lot of the main events that occurred in this section seemed pretty pointless. Some of them did have minor use towards the end of the book, but I still felt it would have worked just as well if they hadn’t have been included. Overall for this section of the book, I did feel it went on too long and took up a big, unnecessary part pf the novel, but I still felt it was rushed. Around one half of the book contained about four years of Quentin’s life, while the other sections seem to span a few months collectively. The shift was a bit jarring and I would have rather spent more time with Quentin at Brakebills (the magical college) and have more of it pivotal to the plot than have it rushed and practically useless.
The time jumps in the first part of the book made the character development seem really drastic and somewhat fake. We go from seeing Quentin struggling in class to being offered an opportunity to skip a year? It just didn’t seem natural to me. Eliot’s transformation from when it was just himself and Quentin at the school to when we meet him again later in the book also seemed weird. I pictured his as this reserved typical bad boy figure, but when we see more of him with the other Physical kids, he seems like a very OCD flamboyant gay guy (which is how I prefer him but the change in his character threw me off).
However I did feel like each character had at least one point that people could relate to. Although I wasn’t Quentin’s biggest fan (which I think is how you’re supposed to feel about him) I still related to his struggles at Brakebills and his sudden feeling of inadequacy when surrounded by other kids just as smart, if not smarter, than himself. His obvious depression is something that readers may also be able to relate to, but overall I found his personality obnoxious and he had the typical ‘Nice Guy’ traits that I really didn’t like. Eliot’s OCD, struggle with alcohol and his feelings of low self worth I think will have spoken to a lot of readers, some points more than others, but I liked the way Grossman portrayed those and how he had Eliot deal with them later in the book. I don’t think we got to see enough of Janet and Josh, although they were present just as much as Eliot I still felt like I knew him better for some reason, their struggles weren’t shown in depth, and although they were present I still would have liked to know more about them. To me Alice was the most relatable and likeable character out of all of them. She was still broken, just like the others, but her struggles with family and the need to prove herself are something that a lot of people can relate to. To me she was the only character who showed character development throughout the whole book, from her inability to speak in front of others at the start of the book, to the amazing heroic and strong woman she became at the end.
The books does improve after section one has finished, it stays to one continuous time line with very minimal time jumps, and the ones that did occur made sense to the story. The second half of this book is far more enjoyable than the first, and once I had reached that section I could not put it down. I needed to know what happened in their world, whether the characters got the amazing adventure they desired, and whether Quentin became a likeable person. Because of the second half of this book, and the way it ended, I will probably read the next two in the series. I wasn’t completely invested in the characters but I was invested in their story.
What did you guys think of The Magicians? Did you feel the same as me or do you think I’m completely wrong? Let me know in the comments section!