by Lev Grossman

DPL Rating:
2
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Review

When I heard this book described as an adult Harry Potter, I immediately snatched it up. I can understand the comparison, and the author makes a few allusions to the Harry Potter universe, though it turns into more of a sinister Narnia. Quentin arrives at his alumni interview for Princeton to find the interviewer dead and a mysterious envelope thrust into his hands. The contents of the envelope lead him to a magical pocket of New York where he passes the entrance exam and is admitted into Brakebills College of Magical Pedagogy. Thus begins Quentin’s magical education, and ends the similarities to Harry Potter or any other fantasy novel I have loved. While the world building and rules of magic are intriguing, the novel lacks a central antagonist. The primary conflict is within Quentin as he struggles to find satisfaction and happiness in life, despite learning that he’s a wizard. It isn’t until the last hundred pages that the adventure begins and we meet the archenemy, though Quentin remains sad and unmotivated. This is not high fantasy with epic quests and unlikely heroes. Rather it is an examination of the pitfalls of modern life, which even magic cannot save you from. 

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