Review: The Magicians

6101718Title: The Magicians
Author: Lev Grossman
Genre: Contemporary, Fantasy, Satire

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Goodreads Summary: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.

When people ask me why I like to read fantasy and science fiction, I tell them that it's because I enjoy getting away from real life. I already know what it's like to live in the here and now, so why would I just want to experience the same thing when I could get to experience fantastical worlds instead?. Fantasy is my means of escapism, and the magic and wonder and adventure inspire and entertain me.

If you open pages of The Magicians expecting the usual kind of epic fantasy book that helps ease you out of the troubles of this world, you're going to be sorely disappointed. The Magicians is by no means a form of escapism; instead, it confronts you with all the bitter unfairness of reality. It's full of scathing satire and cynicism. This is by no means a happy book, but it'll get the occasional wry chuckle out of you. This book was written to make you uncomfortable, and it laughs at you as you squirm.

So how could I possibly have enjoyed a book that is so opposite to what I usually love about fantasy books?

Once I realized that this book wasn't written to make me feel warm and fuzzy inside, I could really dig into and appreciate its satire. After a while I enjoyed how clever the book was in how it dissected fantasy tropes and tore them down with wry wit. Usually the most important factor in my enjoyment of a story is how much I like the characters, but these characters were made to be disliked. Again, this took some getting used to, but I could appreciate how strange and quirky the characters were and how much they contrasted with usual fantasy book heroes and heroines.

This book is unsettling, to say the least, but it really makes you think. Would we be so desperate to escape the real world if the magical world was just as wearisome and bitter? The cynicism of this book almost makes you appreciate the little things in your real life that make you happy. I'll admit that I'm in no rush to pick up book 2 because this is a series that I'll have to be in a very particular mood to read. Still, I'd definitely recommend giving it a try. Just be warned that this is going to be unlike any other fantasy book you've ever read!

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