I think this book was really strange and hard to get into. The plot moves fast but for the most part, it moves seemingly without a point to its direction. Quentin gets into magic school, graduates magic school, goes to the city to party it up, goes to alternate realities to have an adventure, comes home...He's always happy to find out he's getting what he wants, but once he has it, he's miserable. I keep asking what's the point, what's the point; at the end, the point is "never hope, never want, never love."
I also think the author, while clearly LG knows how to write, he spends too much time thumbing his nose at Harry Potter, when he should be describing settings or people clearly... "The room was richly detailed..." How? Tell us about those details! "The room was like a hobbit-hole.." Let's pretend I've never read Tolkein, how was it like a hobbit hole and what the hell is a hobbit? Why are the Fillory books so ridiculously alike to Narnia?
And more importantly, what are the rules to magic? There's this contrast, where the possibilities of magic are endless and at the same time, characters keep saying there are rules...But what rules exactly? Use too much magic, and become a nifflin...What constitutes as too much? What are the punishments for pissing off the Magicians Court? And who put them in charge? It seems to me, Lev Grossman, put miserable people in a magical plotline for the express reason of driving home the point of being content with what you have and ask for nothing more. He didn't really construct anything new, but hijacked old ideas for his own cause.
The ending of this book was best, and I don't mean that rudely, but that's where the action was, the twist, and of course where he outlined exactly why he was writing this story. However the last couple pages contradicted the point; if the point of Quentin is to illustrate the concept of being content with what mundane things you've already got, why is he abandoning his life again?
I think this book was good, in the sense that I don't often see such sad characters, drifting through life, being used to underline the be careful what you wish for bit... but the story would have improved with more imagination. And the worlds the character visited, needed a little more structure.
Original post date:
May 9, 13