Book 44 The Magicians

The Magicians by Lev Grossman fulfilled the “Book Set on College or
University Campus” category for the PopSugar 2019 Reading Challenge. The novel takes
place in a magical college somewhere in the wilds of upstate New York. Untamed
places like Poughkeepsie and Wappingers Falls.
The Magicians is a well-written story with
gorgeous details, an interesting premise, and dynamic characters. I must
preface the blog entry with this statement because the novel made me stabby.
Really stabby.
What would you get if you combined the worlds of C.
S. Lewis and J. K. Rowling? The best story ever right? Full of fantastic settings,
adventures, conflicts, and happy endings, right? Apparently, Mr. Grossman didn’t think so.
he pulls these series together, mushes them into a single book. (Each of those has
seven titles, but you need not remind you of that.) Then Mr. Grossman has few adventures,
boring long stretches of inactivity, and the darkest depressing main character
ever with no happy ending in sight. I wanted to throw the book across the room,
but it was audio and breaking my phone wasn’t worth it.
I try to be polite and praising in my blog posts. I
do not want to abuse any author on his/her choices for their work. But I cannot
understand where the writer was coming here. Nor can I fathom why a publisher would
print a novel with such a dark, bleak message for young people. The book is New
Adult as the characters are over eighteen and there is sexual content. But we
are still talking about young people reading a novel that tells them their dreams
are empty; there is no hope for the future. And give up now because even if you
do the right thing, people will be hurt. Nothing makes any difference.
At its
heart, the story is fanfiction. I have no issue with that. I have written fanfiction
since I was eleven years old. Many of my favorite stories are twists on a
classic tale. The premise of the book wasn’t the problem. The plot execution was.
The world-building was immense but had no direction. No conflict or adventure
happened even with all the spells they learned, the magical games they played, and
their interaction with the regular world. In my opinion, the author dropped the
ball a dozen times.
This single novel could have been a seven-book
series. If he was following the model J. K. Rowling’s set up, one book per year,
he could’ve infused some adventure and crisis into the story. Instead, he brushed
over the one big event that paid off at the end. He also danced past some very
interesting bits with just a quick telling of the teacher in Antarctica and
Alice’s brother’s tale.
These two plots, woven together, would’ve made a wonderful novel, full of love,
loss, conflict, and emotion. The story lost its impact in being a retelling.
If Mr. Grossman had followed C. S. Lewis’s model, there were other and
different places to set up adventure and conflict. I’m not trying to tell the
author that he must have quests and heroes in his book. But it’s essentially a
YA fantasy novel. Our main character must have some growth, change, and a hero hiding
inside him. Our hero should go on life-changing quests to fulfill his destiny or
not. As a story for new adults, the main character must have something
relatable about himself. By the end of the book, he should’ve created a life message
because of his struggles. Quentin’s message was “life is boring, it sucks, and
with all the power in the universe at your fingertips, there’s still nothing good
to do.” (Pardon my constant use of he/hero. I use those because here the main is
     I cannot recommend the novel. So
I will refrain from giving it a star-score. I apologize to the author for my harsh
words, but betrayal is a deep-felt emotion and the book, for me, betrayed the genre.

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