SYNOPSIS: Like everyone else, precocious high school senior Quentin Coldwater assumes that magic isn't real, until he finds himself admitted to a very secretive and exclusive college of magic in upstate New York. There he indulges in joys of college-friendship, love, sex, and booze- and receives a rigorous education in modern sorcery. But magic doesn't bring the happiness and adventure Quentin thought it would. After graduation, he and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on a remarkable journey that may just fulfill Quentin's yearning. But their journey turns out to be darker and more dangerous than they'd imagined.
GENRE: Fantasy, Contemporary (mostly)
FAVORITE QUOTE: (none)
RATING: ★★☆☆☆ / 2 self-loathing stars.
REVIEW: I was expecting a more emotionally mature Harry Potter (this is in no way a dig at HP, just keep reading, I promise, it's all good), in that I mean more adult themes to explore in a magical college enviornment. Instead we're delivered a novel of wretchedly boring magical superficiality.
Our "hero" is a young man in a perpetual state of ennui or even apathy. He's searching for something, I get it, but he's never satisfied and those listless emotions leave the pages and infect the reader completely. You find that you also aren't happy, with the character or book as a whole. If we had even one other character to feel connected to, perhaps that would help, but the author is very stingy with his depth of any of the supporting characters.
The first half of the books spans the entire 5 years at the magical college of Brakebills. But it's like skipping a rock across a pond. There are moments of interest, a glimpse of the magic they are learning, but it's mearly a glimpse, empty rhetoric if even that. Instead, the students lounge around drinking copious amounts of wine and alcohol. It's like the author wanted to stress their college status so thouroughly and drinking was his only idea. It all comes across as pompously boring and does nothing to further the storyline. They are the dull people bemoaning their priveledged lives that you avoid at parties.
Perhaps that was the author's intention, to create a dreary and dull beginning to better emphasize the heightened circumstances of the last 3rd of the book. It doesn't work. By the time any sort of action begins, I felt absolutely nothing for the characters or the story. I was simply over it all.
It's not hard to see where the story is heading, there are abundant clues. There was clear thought and effort put into the plotlines, hence the 2 star rating. The writing when broken down, was all clear and properly done, just without any driving force.
I won't be continuing the series and I can't really recommend it, though I'm sure there are others who would like the story and I hope this book finds those people. Instead I would recommend a couple other books if you're looking for a magical thrill.
1. The Rook by Daniel O'Malley: This one is definitely different, and one of the best female characters written by a male author that I have ever read. London, magical and supernatural forces, and a character that has amnesia, so you learn everything right along with her.
2. A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness: Witches, vampires, and demons, in a surprisingly smart and adult setting. Abounding with history, science, and literature, this is the thinking readers choice for an in depth, suck you in, series.