katmic (Level 10)

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I will watch quite a lot of anime in an average month. Chances are, i will hate at least half of what comes across me in a week, but when recounting or talking about these anime that have failed to pique my interest, it is a rare moment that i will actually say that all of them sucked.

Sure, there are some that i think are purely garbage, but most of the time, even if i hate an anime, that doesn't automatically mean that i think it sucks.

By that, i mean that i understand the idea that the reason an anime might not appeal to me might be due to taste; in other words, i am able to recognize that an anime is good, but that it simply isn't my cup of tea.

An example of this is Berserk. I have tried my hand at berserk in manga, anime series, and even the movies that were released a while back, but i just can't get my self to enjoy it. Frankly i dislike berserk, and i wouldn't recommend it, yet i cannot actually say that it is bad.

I can recognize the quality of the berserk story, the complex characters and their situations, the actions scenes and everything else that berserk has to offer. I see that berserk is quality manga and anime, simply not my cup of tea.

Other anime like sengoku collection fall in a different category, in that they are just bad. I don't think it is matter of my tastes, but that they simply suck.

This book, the magicians falls into this category. For a while i thought it was me, i figured that considering how long it had been since i last read a book, it had to be that i simply needed time to get into what might simply be a complex story. Further reading proved me wrong.

THE PLOT:>

There are smart kids, there are those that stand out even within the smart kids and excel at a different level. Then there are those that are on a whole other level of intelligence, so much so that they must be separated into a completely different class.

Quentin cold water is one such genius, born to destroy academic records and exam scores. He is one of the best, along with his best friends James and Jane.

But Quentin is unhappy, and not just because he loves Jane but she chose James. Life just has no meaning. He wishes he could escape into the world of Fillory, a magical world created in a famous series of books about a couple of orphaned children that escape into a wardrobe to a magical land where they must fight evil.

At the beginning of the book, Quentin is preparing to attend an interview with a very important man that will see him admitted to a very prestigious college. Except that when Quentin arrives at his office, he finds the man dead and two letters, one for him and the other for James.

With interview over, James chooses to ignore his letter while Quentin, after a few hours of thought, decides to see what it was the letter had to say about him.

This one act leads him to the entrance of Brakebills, a magical school sealed away from the world, that teaches young budding minds the arts and sciences of magic, in an effort to groom them into full blown, egregiously powerful magicians.

This is everything that Quentin ever hoped for, to be around boys and girls on his own mental level- they are all geniuses- to enter a world where magic, his fond hobby, is a reality and where he can experience his wildest dreams.

But what Quentin doesn't know is that there is more to magic than meets the eye. More than mind numbing lectures, exhaustingly complicated theories and ridiculous spells, there is a darker side to magic, a side that there teachers have tried hard to keep hidden from them, but which eventually breaks free from their confines and rears its nasty head.

And when Quentin eventually begins his journey down the true path to magic, he will learn that there is more to the silly stories of his child hood, and that fillory isn't nearly as fantastical as his logical scientific mind pretends to be.

MY REVIEW:>

Why do i think this is one of the very worst book i have ever read, besides grapes of wrath? Simple really.

Quentin Coldwater

- Wow, i hate this guy. He is as bad a main character as they come. This is a recurring problem for me in anime. Any anime story strives to have you empathize with the hero, so when they hurt you can feel their pain, and when they struggle you can root for them. SO when i come across anime with great stories but terrible main protagonists, i cringe. Because usually the story is really good, but if you can't cheer on the main character, and he takes up most of the screen time, it is completely impossible to enjoy the story.

Quentin is a horrible, hate worthy character. He is just whiny and miserable. First off, he only gets to brakebills because he is miserable. He hates his life basically and he wants some excitement. So he gets to a world where the magic he has practiced for so long is real, and for a while he is on top of the world. But it doesn't last.

First of all, he can't help but complain every time he has to go back home, which he acts like it is the worst thing that could ever happen; mind you he doesn't have a bad life back home. for all intent and purpose Quentin has what some would call an enviable life, yet he acts like, because it is devoid of magic, it is a worthless existence that he cannot wait to cast off.

Then we get to Quentin some time later, when the excitement has worn off and he suddenly finds himself right back to where he began. He is miserable, and even when he has the most enviable life out there, he can't help but moan on and on about how worthless life is and that he needs more.

It's kind of like that one guy you may or may not know, who has it all, socially and economically, but he is always the one person that will not stop complaining about how bad life is; which makes you wonder what he would make of your own less enviable life.

Quentin is like that times hundred. He never stops whining. Things never get better, even when they are getting better. He is never satisfied, always looking for the next high. How can you not hate a guy like that?

Frankly i was tired of reading about him by halfway the book. The only time things lit up was when he took a beating from his girlfriend. Basically the man is so full of himself he can't see anything else.

THE STORY:>

Wow this story just didn't work. Basically THE MAGICIANS was harry potter fused with the chronicles of Narnia. And when i say 'basically', i mean 'actually'. Quentin is a 'miserable' kid that finds himself at a British type school in a fantastical world that will teach him to do magic.

You have all the different classes and eccentric teachers that break down magic into a science. Quentin comes across an unlikely group of students who, through a series of incidents, morph from antagonistic enemies to great friends.

Fillory has children orphaned by the war, are taken in by there uncle and find a magical world in a wardrobe where they must fight an evil queen. Oh, and the four of them become kings and queens, but they can only stay for so long before being sent back; until some of them grow old (into teens) and can't cross into Fillory anymore.

Seriously, tell me that wasn't Narnia. The idea isn't a bad one, as the author admitted subtly admitted before. Here we have someone trying to bring popular fantasy into the modern age.

The kids-who later become men- in this story are as modern and hip (if that is even still in use) as they come. The story is much more mature, with strong violence, sex, nudity and serious profanity. Basically the author is trying to show us what the story would be if told from what he believes is a realistic point of view and in the modern age, because even harry potter whose story took place in recent years, mostly occurred in old Victorian Britain.

The author does his best to show these characters through the lens of an average kid in an average American college, with all the drinking, partying and sex, mixed in with magic. It has actually been described as harry potter for a mature audience.

And you would think that that would make a compelling story. Even the whole Fillory bit seems interesting, with the darker tone he takes with this even more fantastical world that Quentin discovers to be real.

It should be good, but it isn't, because this guy Grossman sucks as a story teller. I will not say a thing about his writing, but as far as story telling goes, he simply sucks.

First of all, all the excessive drinking and profanity seemed extremely forced and unnecessary. it reminded me of all those anime that would chop head and limbs off and display guts just to shock.

He tried too hard to do 'modern' and failed., specifically in these areas:

1. Narration- I really, really, really hate authors that tell you a story rather than show it to you. Imagine you are reading a book in which person A gets to the starting line and he must then walk down a path to target E. But he doesn't know he will come across obstacles A-D, so as he goes down the path, he encounters these four obstacles, each of harder than the other, but D especially bad, before he finally makes it, miraculously, to target E.

That, what i just wrote, i exactly what Grossman does over and over again. He tells us rather than show us what Quentin and company are doing. Sometimes, he will have Quentin undertake or face a task or obstacle that not only proves to be more challenging than anything the book has shown so far, but will display a new side of the story and impact the overall plot in the future. And Grossman will introduce it, break it down and wrap it up in two paragraphs. It is ridiculous. A good writer/book will show us person A arrive at the starting line, then show us through person A's own eyes or another, how he meets this tasks, perceives them and gets through them to get to target E.

Now he doesn't have to do that again and again, especially if you have multiple obstacles coming the character's way. But once or twice will do,to help build the world and give us a better understanding of it.Grossman doesn't do this. Basically he is a bad story teller. Just consider this. In this book we see Quentin traverse across six years of school; he undergoes training in a variety of classes in magic, each of which varies with each new year and is so well described that you could believe that it was an actual subject. Then you have all those teachers, new and old, each of which might play a role in Quentin's school life. Each year ends with a couple of tests, practical and theoretical, that test all that Quentin has learnt, at the end of which he does their equivalent of a dissertation.

Then there is the magical game that all of magic Dom is into, some sort of giant chess with magic, that Quentin not only participates in but which his school decides to take part of, when it comes to a world wide tournament in which they battle all other schools of magic in the world. After this Quintin joins the real world and…you will have to read it for yourself. Point is, all that takes place in a mere 488 pages of a book. The last book i read was A Storm of swords by George R.R Martin, and he does less, so much less in fact, in nearly 800 pages.

And it is all possible because Grossman will sometimes switch from story telling to narration, where by he simply tells you what happened rather than show you, Basically he is showing you a birds eye view instead of a an up close perception. Grossman had a good idea, maybe even a good story (debatable), he just didn’t know how to tell it. And that leads to the second problem.

2. Characters- Most of these characters are as miserable, self entitled, self pitying, cynical annoyances as, and if not more than Quentin. The way Grossman works is that he will introduce a character and basically tell you as much as he possibly can about who they are and their characters, without including spoilers. That just seems lazy. But you would think that it wouldn’t be necessarily bad, since at least it gets some of these revelations out of the way so that we can focus on the character without wasting time analyzing them to find out who they really are. You would be wrong, because these guys are as dull as paint. Grossman simply doesn’t use them actively, in that they never get to do anything where we might see these descriptions made by Grossman play out; sometimes it is easy to assume that Grossman simply lied about his own characters.

This is how i think a good book should do it. It should introduce new characters, say as little about them, then put them into situations where we the audience can analyze and determine who they actually are by simply seeing how they act and react to situations. Rather than telling me that person A is short tempered on their first appearance, how about you show him being short tempered and let me make the conclusion. It makes the story so much more dynamic. Either way, these characters, Quentin chief among them, sucked.

3. The plot- there was none, the plot that is. This bloody book was completely and utterly aimless. I am not saying i need to see a magical hero that goes on quests and stops evil. I am saying that i need a main protagonist that has an objective, a mission, a purpose in life; funnily enough, that is Quentin's objective in this entire book is to find mission and purpose in life. I should have known the first time he wishes out loud for some evil to defeat or damsel to save now that he has magic. Other than asking the very relevant question of the point of magic in a normal world, he does nothing what so ever.

This is what the book does for nearly 250 pages; it shows us Quentin living a normal life, Quentin finding magic, Quentin learning about what he is going to do in magic school, that is just in the first 30 pages. Then it spends the rest of the 150 pages showing Quentin in school, doing normal school things like meeting new people, new teachers, learning new subjects, practicing magic, doing exams. That is all the first 70% of this book does. When i say that nothing happens, i mean nothing happens. It is seriously infuriating, and only in a way you will understand if you read this book.

ON so many occasions, Grossman tricks you into believing that he is going to break the mold, change things up by hinting at something new and sinister, possibly even a conflict, and each time he casts that opportunity aside and nothing what so ever ever develops. IF that doesn’t seem too bad, let me mention that time a BEAST FROM ANOTHER DIMENSION enters the classroom one fine, completely normal afternoon. We have two pages of tension in which nothing happens-on the students side- and when it all ends…well, that was the end of it. Man, was i pissed off.

This book had no plot from the beginning; this was its biggest and greatest failure. It didn’t know what to do with itself until the very last chapters.

4. THE MAGIC--- seriously, how the hell do you mess up magic. That should be the easiest element of fiction of that kind; at the very least if all else fails, you can draw in the fans with magic. While it is no longer a factor in what books i read, i love reading about magic in a new book, mostly because even when it is the same, it is always somehow different. I loved the magic in Eragon because even thought it was all fiction, there was a logic to it and i was and experimental.

Magic in this book isn’t bad, it is vague; you never really know what it is, or how it works or what is done with it. Grossman spends too much time explaining too many theories and facts about magic to make it interesting. He chose to break it down into a logical science, and instead convoluted its very nature to the point where i couldn't tell who could do what and why. More importantly was how rarely it was used. So you would think that if the book had no plot, then Grossman’s draw would be to show fans some wonderfully fantastical elements for our heroes to explore. But there was so little magic and when it was involved, it was so vaguely described that i couldn’t even begin to understand what they described had just happened. Sometimes i even missed the magic completely.

On hind sight i realize that in normal cases, i wouldn’t have bought this book. Because it takes some money to buy a novel, i like to be careful about what i buy. I have bought books before that have turned out to be trash and i have regretted wasting the money. I will take time to research about a potential book as thoroughly as is possible without getting the book spoilt for me. I will mostly stick to reviews, and here i am not looking to see which book has the best things said about; i always glean some truths from the words of those reviewing the books, truths and factors that help me determine if the book in question has what i need to entertain me.

Why am i explaining all of that? When i put this book down, i considered that maybe it was meant for another type of audience, maybe younger, maybe more mature, maybe more intelligent; so i looked it up like i normally would before buying it, and i was convinced that it wasn’t my tastes that were the problem. There was nothing but scathing reviews for this novel on most sites i went to. People simply didn’t have good things to say about THE MAGICIANS.

The belief is that since this book was a setup for the second novel in a series, that Grossman was simply putting things in place before embarking on a grand journey. Well he can take that Journey alone, because after THE MAGICIANS, i have no intention of reading anything that follows.

I hate seeing wasted potential, where a good story with good ideas are executed so badly. If you read this book and it isn’t to your tastes, you won’t just dislike it, you will hate it. That is the feeling it incites in me.

The last time a book annoyed me was Eragon, and i didn't even dislike Eragon, it was just those several parts in every chapter were Paulini would waste entire pages making excessive and completely unnecessary descriptions regarding details that were so irrelevant. I would make the excuse that he was young, but when he would do this at points where the story was at a fever pitch, when his endless details simply stalled the story to a point where by the time we returned to the point, i had lost all my excitement, even that excuse fails.

RATING: 0/5

THE MAGICIANS is a 2009 novel by Lev Grossman and published by viking press.

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