Every once in a while I get on a little book buying spree. Either because I am in London at Waterstones and had enough time to leaf through a number of books or because I just saw something in a store and decided to buy it later on the net. In that case I start to work through a list that may be a littler bit longer. Lev Grossman’s The Magicians was on my most recent book wish list… I only later found out that it is also on the Best Books of 2009 list of several newspapers.
Does it belong on such a list? Yeah, maybe.
The book is divided in several “sub-books” that are considerably different in content and atmosphere, reflecting the different stages of the protagonist’s personal pursuit of happiness. While the first part is a little bit like Harry Potter for grown-ups – the slightly depressed and manic “hero” gets to a magic college – the second part feels like a LARP gone bad.
I like Grossman’s nerdy, non-positive, dirty, bleak, and yet romantic picture of the world. His protagonists are no heroes, they are not infallible. Their quest is not motivated by a noble moral and they are taken for a ride. And even the happy end has a sad undertone.
The Magicians is thus at least on my personal Good Books of 2009 list.