07 March 2010

Book Musings: The Magicians

Have you ever picked up a book, flipped it open, read the first few pages, and gotten that little tingle that tells you it's going to be good? That happened to me this week when I got The Magicians, by Lev Grossman from the library. I read about the book on Unshelved's book review about a week ago (maybe a little longer). I put a hold on it and it came in much faster than I expected, so I read it Thursday evening. And it was a good book.

It reminded me, at the beginning, of Harry Potter, except it was much better. Magic in this world is difficult and there are some very awful consequences for mistakes. It's not a matter of pointing a wand and saying a few words. It's really, really dangerous, and it alters the characters drastically.

I found it difficult to like the main character, which I think may have been the point. He's all too human, but his faults become emphasized during his years of studying magic. At times I wanted to whack him upside the head and tell him to get over himself. Of course, he has his good points, too, but he's a hero who is flawed, and that makes the story all the better. It's easier to identify with him if he's not perfect.

There are some interesting references to the Chronicles of Narnia, but when the characters actually arrive in Fillory, the Narnia-like world which the main character has become obsessed with, they find that it's much darker than it seemed to be in the books. That was a part I enjoyed, too. I love the Chronicles of Narnia and have read them many times. I wanted to get into Narnia when I was a kid. But if I actually did get there, wouldn't I find that it's a lot scarier than I think it is?

It's definitely a grown-up book. There is swearing, sex, alcohol, drugs, and violence (if those are problems for you). I wouldn't hand it to a child. But then I wouldn't hand Harry Potter to a child either. Book 3 in that series gave me horrific nightmares when I was twelve and I had to stop reading them. However, adult content notwithstanding, The Magicians is definitely a fascinating story.

I can't wait for the sequel.

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