Sunday, August 10, 2014

Magic Sports are the Best Sports: The Magicians Review

That's right! It's time for a grown-up post about an adult book! It took me a while to read (a lot longer than I initially thought), but that's not because it wasn't good. It was so good. But there was so much that was happening, and it's a really long book, so I had to pace myself while also reading some YA stuff in between it.
And I'm making it a goal of mine to read more grown-up books because I do enjoy them, I just get in a nice little cozy corner of YA happiness that I forget I have a ton of other stuff I do actually want to read (I swear I'm going to read Moby Dick and Slaughterhouse-Five one day... one day).

The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Release Date: August 11, 2009
Publisher: Viking
Pages: 409
Keywords: magic, college, coming-of-age
Format Read: library book
Goodreads | Book Depository
Quentin Coldwater is brillant but miserable. He's a senior in high school, and a certifiable genius, but he's still secretly obsessed with a series of fantasy novels he read as a kid, about the adventures of five children in a magical land called Fillory. Compared to that, anything in his real life just seems gray and colorless. 
Everything changes when Quentin finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the practice of modern sorcery. He also discovers all the other things people learn in college: friendship, love, sex, booze, and boredom. But something is still missing. Magic doesn't bring Quentin the happiness and adventure he though it would.
Then, after graduation, he and his friends make a stunning discovery: Fillory is real.
It took me an ungodly amount of time to read this book, but once I made it to about page 270, I could not put it down and promptly finished the rest of it in one night.
I just felt as though so much was happening, and I didn't want to miss any of it, so I had to take breaks to let my mind think about everything that was going on, so it took me a bit to get through this, but not because it wasn't good.

I loved the premise. As a Harry Potter generation kid (I got the first one from my first-grade teacher as a present. I read a LOT. Like, I was Hermione when I was tiny), this was my (and I imagine every other child's) dream to realize that Hogwarts or some sort of magic school existed. This was particularly exciting because it was a college, so the kids were older, more capable, and also not going through puberty at the same time they're trying to handle all this sorcery.

And this magic is powerful. Like, it's got ancient roots and they think wands are silly, and the students have specialties they discover and get sorted into groups based on where their true talents lie. Quentin gets placed with the Physical kids in his third (? I think? May be fourth) year at Brakebills, and he develops a bond with the other students there. The friendships in this book were phenomenal. They were real and messy and crossed boundaries sometimes. People fought and made up and had personalities, and it was so refreshing to see such a real set of kids trying to figure out how to be adults and how to deal with issues and sexuality and school and real-world problems on their own. While magic isn't really something we deal with everyday, this is such a great book to turn to for college students trying to find out who they truly are.

As far as the story line goes, this was all about action. I particularly enjoyed the portions where the students were still at Brakebills. The world was so detailed and so elaborate. One of my favorites had to be welters, a sporting game that seemed like part-Candyland, part-chess, and mostly capture the flag. It involved squares they had to steal from other teams, and there was a lot of running around and magical manipulation involved with it.

The characters were woven so tightly together and developed so well that I remembered them all (Josh was one of my favorites. He was a Physical kid with Quentin who didn't really have control over his magic but became super powerful every once in a while when something worked). But, even with that, there were points that took me completely by surprise, and I found myself reading the same several sentences to make sure I read it right and that something like that actually happened.

I've checked out the second book in this series, and I may finish it a little quicker (the words were so small in the first one, but the second seems to be fewer pages and bigger words, so that's a good sign), but I'm excited to see what comes next in this thrilling magical adventure.

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