by Lev Grossman
Brief Summary: Quentin is something of a prodigy in his school system. He doesn’t realize QUITE how much until the day he’s supposed to do an interview for college and ends up (under mysterious circumstances, no doubt) in a college for magically-inclined people by accident. But apparently, finding the place is enough to take the entrance test and the next thing he knows, he’s in. What follows is a dark, twisting tale combining any childhood fantasy you can think of, with a dark, sinister underbelly.
Kell’s Chatty Review: So, this book has been reviewed and chatted about by millions of people. It also earned a YALSA Award for (in essence) being an adult books that teens will like. Needless to say, my thoughts are by no means unique, but really, I LOVED this book.
To be honest: I picked it up the minute I read the words “adult version of Harry Potter.” Sold. Then it sat on my shelf for a good, long while and in the meantime I read reviews on it. So, I started to get worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype.
And it didn’t. And it did: I don’t think I can call it adult Harry Potter. Yes, there is a magic school. But, for the most part, much of the similarity ends there. The fact it wasn’t an adult Harry Potter is probably the reason why I liked it so much. It was dark and twisty and depressing and not perfect. But it also was really, really unique in how it looked at magic schools and magic (at least from what I’ve previously read).
But it’s not just all about school: While the school stuff takes up a good chunk of the book, much of the rest of the book is spent in Fillory, which is Quentin’s version of Narnia. (Or trying to get to Fillory, anyway.) And let’s be honest here, it’s not all candy canes and unicorns. In fact, it’s pretty terrifying. Once again, I really liked how Grossman imagined this trip panning out. Dark and foreboding just begins to explain the trip. And, also, it was a little sad. (For both obvious and not obvious reasons.)
My favorite place, however: was the Neitherlands. (Although the Antartica trip fascinated me as well.) What a brilliant, brilliant idea. A giant chessboard (or, in the world of The Magicians, a welter’s board) that connects all the worlds in the universe. I do NOT understand why no one was as fascinated with this place as they should have been. Yeah, sure, it would be awesome to go to Fillory and hang out. But come back and check out other things, too! I mean, come on!
What I most wanted to do after reading this book: I really, really want to read the Fillory books. Which don’t exist. So that sucks.
Where this book came from: My own collection. Seriously, I bought it the day B&N put it on the floor.
SPOILER Questions: Okay, normally I shy away from spoilers (unless it’s HP, in which, you know, you should just have read it by now). But I have SO many questions and I need to list a few to get them off my chest: What the hell happened to Penny? What was inside those buildings in the Neitherlands besides books? Did Penny become a book? A librarian? Since so much time has passed in the real world, won’t the gang going back to Fillory mean that it’s been like two centuries in Fillory time? Who knows what they’re going to find? What exactly is a niffin? Does it just hang out? So, theoretically, could niffin Alice still be in Ember’s Tomb? When The Beast fell, did everyone just fall in line? I mean, SO many people/animals were on his side. Is there going to be a sequel of this thing?
There’s so many more, but we’re well beyond a large paragraph right now. If anyone has any thoughts on these questions (or questions of your own), please leave them in the comments.