And then everything changed

Samstag, 16. Januar 2016

Book recommendation: The magicians 1+2 by Lev Grossman

In November 2015 I felt really down and annoyed by my life. There was a huge tower of problems building up in front of me and - like every sane person - I chose to ignore it and read a sensationally good book instead. I've read The Magicians by Lev Grossman in 2014, but it was only one year later that I read the second book of the trilogy The Magicians King. And let me tell you it's equally fantastic.

If your a fantasy book fan in your twenties and you're looking for a book full of magic and wonders but you also want to find yourself in it with all your hopes and dreams and quarterlife crisis, then The Magicians series is for you. Those books are hands down the best adult fantasy books I've ever read. They're basically Harry Potter, just with a LOT more sex, depression, betrayal, irony and swear words.

Book 1: The Magicians

In book 1 The Magicians we meet Quentin, a pretty mediocre High School graduate, grumpy, arrogant and a bit of an idiot, who attends a college for magic. During his studies there he learns that magic is pretty much limitless (for his exam project he attempts to fly to the moon - like he was Superman - but fails. but still it would have been possible, if he wasn't such a half-ass person) and therefore extremely dangorous.
After graduating Quentin and his friends live in New York and because they could literally do EVERYTHING because they're magicians and can make things happen or make them appear out of thin air, they decide to do nothing. They hang around aimlessly in their apartment, drink a lot (seriously they're all alcoholics), party, have sex and waste their time, like every twentysomething does sometimes.
That is until their nerd classmate Penny announces that he has found a way to another dimension. And not any dimension, but the dimension Fillory which happens to be the world in which Quentin's favorite childhood books were set in (which of course turn out to be true). So they go their and fight the absolutely terrifying Beast.

Book 2: The Magicians King

Book 2 The Magicians King is a bit different. The book starts in Fillory where Quentin and his friends are now kings and queens. Quentin and his friend Julia are accidently transported back to Earth and they try to find their way back. Then they go on a quest to save magic.
But the special thing about book 2 is that half of the book is dedicated to Julia's story. Julia was Quentin's High School crush who was far too cool for him. But then he was accepted to magic university and she wasn't. We meet her once again in book 1 when she started dressing like a gothic bride and is thin and sick and begs Quentin to teach her magic but he refuses. That's the last we heard from her in book 1.
In book 2 (when we've already forgotten about her) she is brought back into the plot and every second chapter tells her story. Turns out after Quentin refused to teach her magic, she had to learn it through the underground magic scene which is a world full of drugs and prostitution. Her story is abolutely disturbing and brutal. But it feels real. Julia's story was my favourite thing about book 2, except maybe the end, which was also brilliant.

When you start reading Lev Grossman, you have to be warned. His books are like no other books, espeacially not like other fantasy books. This is because of the three aspects which I admire most about his work.

1. The characters are extremely messed up. 

None of the main characters are in any way likable. Quentin is mostly an asshole. Eliot is an arrogant, broken alcoholic. Janet is what you call an attention whore. Alice is a narrow-minded control freak. Julia is simply an absolute wreck. And it goes on like this. But this is what makes The Magicians, despite its sometimes fairytale-like stories, close to real life.
Real people aren't heroes. They're insecure and condescending and scared and stupid and that's excactly how Lev Grossman created his characters. They have real life problems. They fall in love, they get heartbroken, they break hearts. They make mistakes. The have existential crises. They are hot-tempered and make awful decisions. They're inperfect in any way. But that's what makes them beautiful. Interesting characters aren't heroes. They're people with edges which the readers identify with. And the characters in The Magicians are just that.

2. The Magicians goes further than other fantasy books.

 Though all fantasy books play with the impossible, with magic, the supernatural, the godly, Lev Grossman goes further. He explores other dimensions. He kills off people because of a stupid mistake. He lets his charaters fly to the moon or hike to the North Pole or sail to the end of the world. For him magic is truely  limitless. He lets them mess with gods. The plot of The Magicians is never predictable because there are so many fucked up twists and turns and there are concepts and plotlines you couldn't even imagine.

3. Lev Grossman's writing style is really rough. 

Honestly, he sounds more like a blogger than a book author. When I read The Magicians I feel like my drunk friend with bad manners is telling me a story. He swears A LOT. And he talks like only a generation which grew up with the internet know how to. He talks like us. Millenials. And it doesn't come across as cheap but it actually fits the characters extremely well. Also it gives the reader the feeling that here someone is talking to us, who is just like us. With this Lev Grossman manages to capture the essence of things, the essence of life, of humanity, so accurately, that it's abolutely brutal. And brilliant.

So please, give The Magicians trilogy a try. Adult fantasy literature won't get any better than this.

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