Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Magicians at 69%

The Kindle doesn't log page numbers, only percentages. I'm over half done with Lev Grossman's The Magicians, and no matter how I calculate the pages, I am mightily conflicted.

I've run across several Holden Caulfield Meets Hogwarts books lately, and I've enjoyed them. This one, featuring Quentin Coldwater and a magical university, felt, at first, like it was going to fit right in with the others. But though the story telling (the voice, the pacing, something) feels like a YA, the story itself most certainly is not- there are a great many bad words, lots of onscreen sex, rampant binge drinking (get these kids to rehab, stat), and some unapologetic mentions of drug use. None of that would drive me away from the book, if the story itself were more compelling. Or more fleshed out.

There are lots of wonderfully described vignettes, teasers about the college, about characters, about magic, about the classes, and yet they all feel disjointed- scenes thrown together in a more or less linear fashion. So far there have been two deaths, both described in full, and then dropped. Just like that- barely a mention of them later, and as far as I can tell, there is no indication that either death has anything to do with what's happening in the plot (actually, I have no idea what's actually happening in the plot- the latest chapter has thrown another wrench into the story line). Same with some of their magical trials, and an appearance by a Beast. All fascinating, but isolated incidences that are plopped into the book and then forgotten. Characters that seemed important at first, disappear (or are reintroduced briefly, so completely changed that I did not recognize them).

And still, I could deal with all of the above, if the characters themselves weren't such unremitting jerks. Shallow, selfish, arrogant, whiny, and often downright mean. Bullies. I wouldn't want to spend a minute in real life with any of them. I know that flawed characters are human characters, but these kids have an overabundance.

And yet, I'm going to finish the book, and I hope that at least one of the characters turns out to be nice. But odds are even that I won't continue with the series.

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