Title: The Magicians
Author: Lev Grossman
Recommendation: An adult version of Harry Potter you shouldn't miss.
Summary: Quentin Coldwater is an academically gifted junior, but unhappy about his bland life. Until one day he gets invited to participate in entrance examinations to The Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy. This day he discovers a new dimension to his life and his adventures as a magician begin.
Reactions: The Magicians has topped many of 2009 favorites lists and I found myself immersed in the book from the very first pages. Quentin is a bright, but unhappy teen who spends his time reading and re-reading Fillory books. Fillory story is analogous to Lewis' Narnia -- a bunch of children discover a new magic world beyond their own where they have adventures.
One day on the way from school, Quentin gets plunged into the magical world of his own, where he becomes a student at a prestigious school of magic. I very much enjoyed the part of the book dealing with Quentin's time at Brakebills. There is a coming of age story and reader's introduction to a set of characters who will be important for the rest of the novel.
Quentin comes off as somewhat goofy and unsure at the start, but grows with the story. The supporting cast is diverse, each with a strong back-story. Their nature get revealed through various events throughout Quentin's school career. No one is perfect and the novel goes into somewhat gritty details of the students' lives at school.
I found this first part of the book to be the most enjoyable. The book continues on when Quentin and his friends graduate. This takes up the larger part of the book, but I liked the story less as the time went on. Perhaps the perpetual bleakness of Quentin's outlook wore down on me. His actions take toll and I found him a lot less likable later on.
The book is well plotted, except for the ending which I found rather anti-climatic for my taste. There just isn't enough feeling of resolution. Nevertheless, The Magicians really stands out from other fantasy books due to the captivating writing, gritty characters, and the wonder of magic all in one.
I definitely would recommend this as an excellent read and would pick up any sequels if such should appear.