So I just wrapped up The Magicians by Lev Grossman. I had heard really good things about it so I gave it a shot. The story is centered around Quentin Coldwater, an outcast kid from Brooklyn who suffers from low self esteem and a distinct sense of self loathing. He is of course bright, and “misunderstood” and not appreciated by Julia (one of a trio of pals along with James in which Q plays the 3rd wheel.). He ends up at a school of magic called Brakebills College of Magical Pedagogy. The bulk of the book is him meeting a new group of friends and getting through his years there at the school. Well, lo and behold, magic is real and there ensues the usual discovery of a whole new world etc etc. The books last half is Q and pals finding themselves in Fillory, the fantasy world that Q has lost himself in while reading a series of books published in the mid 20th century. Think of them like the Tolkien books. There is a whole world there and after Brakebills, Q ends up in Fillory. There is some relationship drama with Alice and she ends up being the actual baddest motherf-er of the group and sacrifices herself to save them. And the self pity, self loathing and misplaced anger that pours out of Quentin taints the whole book.
The story is fine and the system of magic is fine and the writing is fine… The problem is that Quentin is a whiny, ungrateful, miserable dipshit. He is just too unlikable. He thinks like a child, acts like a child and is just a pretty terrible person all around. The fact that this series centers around him is pretty disappointing. At least Harry Potter was a child. Quentin is just an insufferable douche. I can’t bring myself to continue the series.. I just don’t care enough about the characters.
Anywho.. TL:DR 2.5 out of 5 magic spells…
So, during my daily commute I tend to listen mostly to audio books. Having an hour plus commute each way really lets me tear through them at a fairly quick pace and I frequently find myself buying extra credits from Audible.com. (I highly recommend it btw)
Anyway, I recently completed the third installment of the Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown and I wanted to put in my 2c. The story takes place in the far future where humans have terraformed and populated Mars, the Moon (Luna) and various celestial bodies in the solar system. And humanity is divided by class using a “color” scheme. Golds sit at the top and conquered the rest of humanity a couple hundred years prior to the story. They took on a lot of Roman culture and social constructs yet have fantastic tech which they use to rule over the other Colors. Obsidians are huge warriors that are imprisoned on the Poles of the planets and believe the Golds are the Norse Gods. They are used for martial purposes and are of course slaves. Grey’s are use mainly as soldiers and police. Silvers are tech centric, Oranges are medical, Pinks are prostitutes/sex slaves, Coppers are bankers and of course the Reds are used as slave labor in various endevours but they are most famous for being miners extracting Helium3 from deep inside Mars.
The story is based around a particular Red name Darrow of Lycos ,which is a mining city deep under Mars. The Red believe that the surface of Mars is uninhabitable and they are digging out the lifeblood of the settlers trying to make it so. This is, of course, a lie. They are enslaved by the Golds and Mars is beautiful with majestic cities, lush gardens etc etc.
Anyway – Brown sucks you right in and makes Darrow someone you care about and then gets you on board with a pretty brutal event that kicks this whole ride off. I’m not going to go into a ton of detail or even much more, but the gist is that he leads a rebellion of sorts.
I really, really found this series enjoyable. I loved most of the characters and at least twice I found myself with my heart pounding, adrenaline pumping and almost gasping in shock/disbelief at certain points. Its a pretty rare book that gets me to that point. I would recommend this to anyone who is a fan of the SciFi, Fantasy genre. Mr. Brown did a great job and I look forward to whatever he puts out in the future.
TL;DR – If you like SciFi/Fantasy, read or listen to this now! Fear the Reaper!