Caution, mild spoilers ahead.
“If there’s a single lesson that life teaches us, it’s that wishing doesn’t make it so.”
I read some of the reviews from the people I follow before buying this book. And I actually left it on the bookstore shelf several times before finally picking it up and moving to the checkout line.
Usually I think about it for a long time if a book has a lower than a 4-star rating on the Goodreads. I have enough trust in the community, unless it appeals to me with its cover or its summary. The latter is what happened in this case and oh, boy how I much I regret it.
From the first pages of the book I had this feeling that I have read all of this somewhere else. Harry Potter, Narnia… but well it has been said so many times before and by better reviewers than me.
So let’s start with what I liked about this book. Sometimes I like reading about characters who are all perfect, other times the bad-ass crazy one appeal to me more. In this case the protagonists seem to be real people, who have problems and real feelings, who have relationships that are not perfect and which are constantly changing.
And that’s about it. Now to the stuff I didn’t like.
The characters are so dull. Quentin, Elliot, Janet, Josh… They have no depth. Almost in the ending I wondered maybe it was Alice the real protagonist, but no, I was right from the beginning. It is Quentin.
He is just a person with no motivation, who always gets what he wants and seems to get no satisfaction from it. Which leads to a heavy alcoholism for about 2/3 of the book. There were chapters that were so hard to get through just because it went on an on how the famous Brakebills quintet took all the drugs they could lay a hand on and tried to find their way to oblivion because they were just too perfect for this world.
Now to the plot-holes. The characters that appear in a scene and then are gone till the end of the book seem to be an endless treasure for L. Grossman. Their appearances almost seem to be there to tell you ‘Well, you heard of him/her once, isn’t it enough for him/her to be the biggest hero/enemy of the book?’
The information is laid in front of the reader so he doesn’t start doubting anything he is told.
The little cherry on the top of all this pile of nonsense seems to be the fact that all the narrative arc happens on the last 100 pages.
I wondered for a long time when will we finally know what this book is really about till I reached the 350 pages. For an exposition and the conflict to incite the readers’ attention that takes a really long time.
And it happens again at the resolution, when the tracks for the next book are laid. Quentin has finally accepted his uselessness as a character and he becomes what he should have been from the start only to be swept away on a new adventure on the last half-page.
The fact that the show that is loosely based on the book is already on its fourth season and has a 7.6 rating on IMDb, tells me that the show is better than the book.
Out of curiosity, I watched a couple of episodes and I regret to tell you that the show is definitely better than the book.
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