The Magicians (Magicians Series #1) (Turtleback School & Library Binding Edition)

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Overview

FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY. Quentin Coldwater lives in a state of perpetual melancholy, privately obsessed with his childhood books about the enchanted land of Fillory. When he's admitted to the surreptitious Brakebills Academy for an education in magic, Quentin finds mastering spells is tedious (and love is even more fraught). He also discovers his power has thrilling potential--though it's unclear what he should do with it once he's moved with his new magician cohorts to New York City. Then they ...
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The Magicians (Magicians Series #1)

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Overview

FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY. Quentin Coldwater lives in a state of perpetual melancholy, privately obsessed with his childhood books about the enchanted land of Fillory. When he's admitted to the surreptitious Brakebills Academy for an education in magic, Quentin finds mastering spells is tedious (and love is even more fraught). He also discovers his power has thrilling potential--though it's unclear what he should do with it once he's moved with his new magician cohorts to New York City. Then they discover the magical land of Fillory is real and launch an expedition to use their powers to set things right in the kingdom--which, naturally, turns out to be a much murkier proposition than expected.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780606147842
  • Publisher: Demco Media
  • Publication date: 5/25/2010
  • Series: Magicians Series , #1
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Edition description: THIS EDITION IS INTENDED FOR USE IN SCHOOLS AND LIBRARIES ONLY
  • Pages: 402
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman

LEV GROSSMAN is Time magazine's book critic. He has written articles for the New York Times, Salon, Entertainment Weekly, Time Out New York, and the Village Voice. He lives in Brooklyn.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 685 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(208)

4 Star

(199)

3 Star

(129)

2 Star

(81)

1 Star

(68)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 687 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    a Harry Potter derivative?

    This review contains SPOILERS.

    I came away from 'The Magicians' with very mixed feelings. I'm leery of books that have reviews on the back flap that mention comparisons ro other books as part of their summaries - because this book - its plot, characters, and setting - should stand on its own. Unfortunately, 'The Magicians' does not. It is highly derivative of both the Harry Potter books and the Chronicles of Narnia. To give one example: a fictional 'welters' game is introduced as something that the magicians play at the Brakebills College. The rules of welters are never clearly illustrated and the magical game appears to have been introduced simply to mock the Quidditch game that was invented in the Harry Potter books. (When he first learns about welters, the lead character, Quentin, remarks, "What, no broomsticks?") Indeed, I can't think of any part of the book's plot that was advanced because the characters play welters.

    There is one very chilling scene in which Quentin disturbs a spell that one of his teachers is doing as a demonstration and an extra-dimensional creature appears - freezing everyone in the classroom - with a lethal outcome for one of the students. However, the creature is later explained away in connection with the ordinary world - and its actions in the classroom don't make very much sense in retrospect.

    Lastly, despite the fact that uncovering the mystery of Fillory is the principal quest of the book, Quentin doesn't actually arrive in Fillory until page 286 and the conflict is resolved by page 365 - leaving the remaining 40-odd pages to cover 2 years and a throw-away quest to get out of Fillory.

    To be honest, the book reads like it was the first draft of a novel that somehow made it through the publishing process without ever passing an editor's desk. It breaks - annoyingly so - one of the basic rules of story-telling: show the reader, don't tell the reader. And the book spends pages telling the reader what Quentin is feeling, e.g. "Quentin didn't bother with the DVDs, just flipped channels on the huge TV and slugged stright from the bottle until sunlight came bleeding up over the horizon, like more acid blood oozing out of his sick ruptured heart, which felt - not that anyone cared - like a rotten drum of biohazardous waste at the very bottom of a landfill, leaching poison into the groundwater, enough poison to kill an entire suburb full of innocent and unsuspecting children."

    This book is not a fantasy novel - nor does it "enlarge the boundaries of conventional fantasy writing" as the dust jacket would breathlessly have you believe. It is, at best, an incomplete post-modern novel with inexplicably wealthy, navel-gazing characters who can occasionally perform magic and, at worse, it can be construed as a cynical mash-up of others' truly revolutionary fantasy stories.

    26 out of 35 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    It's about time!

    Why does it take so long for someone to write a fantasy book for adults? A fantasy that occurs without women in long dresses and men with swords, fantastic! This was great. He takes a lot from Narnia and Harry Potter, but almost in a sarcastic, given kind of way. I got it on my ipod and enjoyed it while I mowed, cleaned, ran and missed it when I had to put it down for a while. Very enjoyable.

    17 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2010

    DON'T BUY THIS!!!

    After all of the excitement from Barnes and Noble staff recommendations, this book just frustrates me. It's one of a few books that I wish I had not started to read, because I must finish all books. It has been at least 6 months and I'm still trying to get through it. I'm embarrassed to have suggested this book to my friends without first reading through the book completely.

    Blah Blah Blah, it's a bit Harry Potter, a bit Narnia, a bit Wizard of Oz, Alice In Wonderland... It seems there is not one fresh idea in this entire book! This is basically just a conglomeration of the wizards, and lions and witches and animals talking and being transported to another world. It would serve us better to re-read the originals.

    Kudos to the art department for the book cover. This is probably what got us interested in the book to begin with. Unfortunately, there's nothing more beyond the cover.

    16 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 11, 2010

    I was looking forward to reading this book...sadly disappointed...

    After seeing this book description and the BN review, I was really looking forward to reading this book. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it didn't deliver. I felt it borrowed too much from other fantasy series - especially Harry Potter and Narnia. Yes, there were some variations, but essentially the same concepts, so if felt very unoriginal to me. I also was disappointed in the characters - it's hard to get through a book when you dislike the majority of the characters.

    15 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 2, 2009

    The Magicians

    I read a blurb about this book in People Magazine, and it piqued my curiosity. I love Harry Potter books and the Chronicles of Narnia, and other magical books. But this one fell short in my opinion. It closely mirrored the Chronicles of Narnia, just with young adults and more sex and drinking. I found it difficult to make myself sit down and read it, and thought several times about just giving up before I was finished, which is something I don't normally do with any book. The writing wasn't engaging, the plot was absurd, even for a magical theme, the characters were annoying and irritating. I would not recommend this book.

    13 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not Recommended

    It was like Holden Caulfield goes to Hogwarts than falls into Narnia... and managed to suck all the fun out of it.

    12 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 20, 2010

    Mish Mash of Great Literature that Doesn't Live Up

    I bought this book thinking that the blurb on the back made it sound intriguing. What I got was a blatant rip-off of Harry Potter's Hogwarts, Narnia, John Bellairs' The House with a Clock in it's Walls, Edward Eager's Tales of Magic, a little bit of Garth Nix's Keys to the Kingdom and even some Tolkien. There was a very thin plot to string it all together on, lots of gratuitous sex and booze and drugs, lots of angst, lots of unresolved plot points, and read more like a giant piece of bad fan fiction than serious writing. Seriously, how did Grossman get this manuscript by an editor? Unless that editor has been living under a rock. And despite all the things I've mentioned above, the story was just weak. He never *did* anything to redeem himself or earn it or *anything*. The characters were all just so horrible, I didn't really care what happened to them at the end. Except Alice and she turned out to be just as stupid as the rest.

    So my best advice: Save your time and money. This book isn't worth it.

    12 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 10, 2010

    I really wanted to like this book...

    Believe me, I did. I REALLY wanted to like it. The concept sounded great; an adult Harry Potter. But when it comes down to it, the book was unoriginal, and it drug on. The book itself is split into 4 "Books", the first of which lasts almost 2/3 of the total story, and details the character's time at Brakebills college of magic. With the exception of a few pages, I felt like really nothing ever happened here. The remaining three "Books" was basically a retelling of the Narnia books, with only slight changes, mostly just in character names.

    Some other's reviews were that this was an easy read, but it really never held my attention. I can usually read a book in just a few days, but everytime I picked this book up, I would have to fight from falling asleep.

    Maybe someone else could appreciate it more, but honestly, the more I read the story, the more I thought how unoriginal is was.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 28, 2010

    Stylish and mystifying

    It's embaressing that J.K. Rowling even be mentioned when talking about this book, The Magicians is at a level her books could never imagine touching. The sheer amount of style in the writing is breathtaking, I caught myself drooling over wording and phrases more than once, the writer in me bowing down to Grossman's genius. The story itself is deep and requires more than just a cursoury reading, people who find the characters disgusing and the story unoriginal are only getting surface value. There is a psychology to everything that happens, one that is deep, dark, and immnsely disturbing. The characters are sickening and so real they break your heart, to book grasps at a reality that will leave you jumping at every alleyway, expecting Brakebills to be around the corner.

    7 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A Misunderstood Masterpiece

    June 30th, 1997 the end of accurate fantasy reviews. Why? Two words: Harry Potter. The sad truth is that with the release of the mega series Harry Potter, 90% of people became blinded. Books, movies, and T.V. show have all suffered because of Harry Potter because it seems that no one seems to realize that, while Harry Potter was an extraordinary series, it was a CHILDRENS series.

    What does this mean? It means that you cannot hope to accurately compare a book written specifically for children to that of a book written specifically for adults. No one in their right mind would compare The Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter, why? Because Tolkien came before Rowling and thus he seems to be immune to this foolish craze.

    The Magicians was written for ADULTS and while there are similarities they are so blatant that it is obvious that Lev Grossman wrote his novel as a work of satire. He has seen through all the high fantasy silliness and, quite accurately, exposed a major flaw in fantasy. Fantasy has always been an escapist genre, but he realized that many authors were, and still are, turning fantasy into a happy-go-lucky place where elves frolic in the forests and the hero always wins. He saw it when he read Lewis Carrols Chronicles of Narnia and he saw it again in the Harry Potter franchise. In The Magicians, Grossman shows us that those stories are great when you're a kid, but when you grow up you realize how foolish it all is. He takes us all back to some of our most treasured worlds and rips them apart with sheer honesty.

    The characters in the novel are true to life, if somewhat exaggerated, in their nihilistic, selfish, and desperate search for meaning. Lev Grossman shows us that as much fun as it is to read about worlds where all human flaws are vanquished leaving only the noble characteristics, it is not real. No matter how much magic we have, no matter what world we're on, we will find a way to be unhappy; to question who we are, and why we're here. As brutal as it sounds, Lev Grossman once again proves just how much of a master he is at his craft. The world he creates_and the worlds he borrows from_are more than realistic, the characters are heartbreaking in their reflection of each of us, and the plot makes The Magicians not only fun to read, but page turner that will keep you guessing.

    Many of the reviewers are right, if you are looking for Harry Potter do not pick up this book. It is for adults and furthermore it is a brutally honest account of the downside to 'Happily Ever After". If you're looking for a fantastic dark fantasy, laced with acid humor, and a more than vivid world, The Magicians is a must read. But please, stop this obsession with comparing everything written or filmed to Harry Potter; unless it's a children's fantasy they are not comparable.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not Your Average Fantasy Epic

    If you ever anxiously waited for the owl carrying your invitation to Hogwarts to arrive, or checked all the closets in your house for the entrance to Narnia, this book is for you.

    Quentin is a somewhat nerdy teenager who has always been obsessed with a series of books about very British children who are transported to a magical land called Fillory to have wonderful adventures. One day, while Quentin is busy hating his life (in which his best friend dates the girl he loves and he has to go on pointless college interviews), he finds himself suddenly transported from downtown Brooklyn to an actual school of magic in upstate New York called Brakebills. He has to pass an exam to get in, but Quentin makes it, and he thinks his dreams have finally come true.

    However, Brakebills doesn't solve Quentin's problems, and he ends up just as unhappy as ever. It turns out magic makes life easier for people, but it doesn't make it any more meaningful. Magicians don't have to work, so they can do whatever they want, which usually ends up being academic work or drinking themselves silly. Quentin ends up facing the same questions most young adults do: who am I, who do I want to be, what do I want to do with my life? Even when faced with the idea that the world of Fillory might be real, and that one of his classmates can take him there, Quentin is not fulfilled, and he can't figure out why.

    The Magicians is definitely a unique play on the fantasy genre: it blatantly pokes fun at books like The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, and The Lord of the Rings, while still paying some homage to them. Quentin doesn't experience the traditional hero's journey, but this actually works to the book's advantage, because I found myself continually surprised. It's a unique twist to the genre, and the mythology of Fillory ends up being more intertwined in the story than one would suppose, and I loved every minute of it.

    A warning, though: this is NOT a book for children. I would recommend it for some teens, but there is a lot of sex, swearing, drinking, and drug use. It's definitely R-rated!

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 1, 2011

    Don't buy it. I am donating my copy to the public library and I never give away my books.

    I too was sadly disappointed. After having just read Rothfuss's Wise Man's Fear and Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, I picked up this book on the recommendation of someone on a fantasy blog. Although the story idea is interesting, the fact of the matter is that Grossman is not a good writer when is comes to fiction. He is a smart guy and I 'm sure his reviews are insightful, but he just doesn't cut it as a fantasy writer. Simply put, the language was boring. My son's middle school English teacher always says, "Show, don't tell." Grossman is always so literal and never describes anything. He leaves nothing to the imagination and his descriptions fall flat. I could barely get through the book and I wasn't at all invested in the characters. Skip this book and, instead, read and reread Gaiman or Rothfuss. They write in beautiful and original ways and sweep you up into their narratives. I feel badly writing this customer review because I thought Grossman was clever and humble when interviewing Gaiman at a reading a couple of weeks ago at the 92nd Street Y, but I just had to put this out there.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Good story.. just ignore the back of the book where it compares it to Potter/Narnia.. trust me. :)

    Listen, the story was good... but just ignore the back of the book that compares it to Harry Potter and Narnia becuase if you don't, you'll be left scratching your head as to what it was all about. The book is about magicians and it does reference both series in many ways, but it is intentionally and very cleverly done by the writer. It's not meant to copy those books, or mock them in any way, by referring to them in a joking way, the characters in the book acknowledge that they are indeed different from those books. Oh...and yes, this is definitely not a book for kids... the main character is 17 years old when it starts and he grows into a young man as the book progresses. There is definitely a more adult theme to it...so if you're expecting Potter/Narnia innocence you may not be happy. However, if you take the time to look beyond that and read this book you will find that the sex and alcohol topics are not just there because... they have a purpose. Both are ways that people use to try to fill voids and to find magic...and how that relates to the story was great. Unfortunately, I think this was lost to many people from the comments I've read because of the comparison to the Potter/Narnia books. So take a chance... keep an open mind... and just sit back and enjoy. I admit that at first I also had a hard time separating the stories... but I'm glad I stuck with it and because it truly was worth it. It left me wanting to go out there and live life... A very enjoyable read.. can't wait to read the next one summer 2011.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Wow this is a bad book!!

    It had been a while since I just stopped reading a book. I just simply couldn't make it to the end! The author is zero creative, he just combined Hogwarts with Narnia and added tons of sex, booze and infidelity, and expected to have a great book. Who ever said that Harry Potter or Narnia would have been better with a bunch of drunken teenagers with no morals, who have constant sex? I am sorry I spent money on this book, but I am even more sorry to have wasted time on it. In case I haven't been clear enough, do not read this!!! Trust me!

    4 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great book, if you don't mind rushed anti-climaxes

    The book is split up into 4 seperate books, each with a focus.

    The first book is about introducing us to the characters, and learning how each one is related. While reading this, it is almost impossible to not compare his magic school to Hogwarts. The only problem is that Q (the depressed main character) never has to fight any evil wizards, and before you realize it, you are 1/3 of the way through the book and nothing has happened.

    Part two and three blur together, but it is, for the most part, more of the same. Q is miserable, and discovers that drinking only makes things worse.

    Part four is where the story really picks up, and even with a depressive main character, I could have read 3x as much as was written about the fantisy world. Unfortunately, the best parts tend to go too fast, and feel hurried, as though Grossman had a deadline to meet.

    Although this review sounds harsh, there was a lot that I did enjoy. The way that magic was described was superb, the mixing of contemporary and old magical lands was done very well, and the imagry was superb. Although the plot felt rushed in places and toooo sloooow in others, I enjoyed the style itself of writing. I would recomend this book to other people, once it is bargin priced @ $5.99. Until then, I'll shamelessly promote 'Sasbriel' by garth Nix as a more enjoyable alternative.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 13, 2011

    A review compared this to Harry Potter? FALSE

    this book was full of spoiled, depressed, and entitled characters..it was aggravating to read. There was very little plot to the book until the last few chapters, the rest of it was basically skimming over their lives and listening to them lament over how boring and pointless those lives are. Had high expectations based on reviews, but was very disapointed I spent money on this rather than borrowing from the library, at least if I had borrowed it, I would have only been out of my time, not the money.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2011

    Horrible

    I didn't think it could be possible to combine the Harry Potter and Narnia series and then somehow make the most boring drawn out story ever but this author managed to do just that. I couldn't even finish it because I had paint drying in the living room which was far more entertaiming. How can anyone say this is for people looking to read something after finishing Harry Potter??? Did you even read Harry Potter??

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 5, 2010

    A magical rollercoaster ride

    There's lots to like here, although I suspect that for everyone like me who LOVES this book there will be someone else who hates it, especially hardened Harry Potter fans who will almost certainly think Grossman borrowed too liberally from J.K. Rowling's popular, history-making fantasy series.

    Yes, OK, there's a school for magicians and a Quidditch-like tournament, but the story is so cleverly dissimilar from 'Potter' in so many other ways it's not a problem.

    In fact, it felt very much like an homage to both Rowling and C.S. Lewis in the way it explores the interesting, entertaining notion of what can happen if troubled kids use their new wizard-like skills exploring a supernatural Narnia-like realm they grew up reading about.

    And, personally, I loved that it took one instead of seven books for the main characters to graduate from their school of magic, and that the main characters are older than the Harry Potter kids (and that they're not always likeable), and that the main character is prone to making occasionally horrific, consequence-suffering decisions, and that the magic isn't easy to master, and that magic can be used in the real world.

    And, sacriligious gasp!, I prefer Lev's style over J.K.'s style anyway. He's a more sophisticated writer with a more cautionary, adult tale to tell ... and he's particularly masterful at using analogies and pithy phrases for context. I found myself constanting thinking after reading one point-on analogy after another, 'Oh, yeah. I totally get what you're saying!'

    I fall solidly in the camp of people who love this book. You may or may not.

    One thing is for sure, though ... this isn't for your kids.

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Coming of age novel with a magical twist

    It pays homage to the Harry Potter and Narnia novels, and it has similarities but that's where it stops. It's a coming of age novel which features Quentin and his friends he meets at Brakebills. It's definitely a more serious novel and delves deeper into emotions and it's more dark and definitely not a kid's book! there's action and drama, romance too, but there's some twists and turns that make the book more darker and includes more "dangerous" themes which makes the book catered towards adults.

    I liked the book. It certainly did grab my curiosity when I first heard about it and as I read further into it, I had to try and not put Harry Potter and Narnia comparisons, or it'll ruin my enjoyment of this book - which I'm glad I managed to fight off. I thought it was pretty well executed and very well thought out especially with trying to juggle the Fillory part into this story and having to put it as once a fictional world that Quentin had been reading since he was a boy into a full fledged real-life fantasy world and also adding a fantasy epic plot into it as well, while also juggling the plot happening on real Earth. However, it went smooth and it did not leave me, as a reader, confused. There's even a helpful map on the inside of the book which is an added bonus. The plot was great, as it followed Quentin from his beginning years in the college, to his graduation, to his real life entrance into the world, and to his adventures in Fillory and afterwards. It's a great chronological way of running the story.

    I have to admit, this is one of the few books I liked, but where I also had an intense dislike for the main character. I actually did not like Quentin at all. He's such a whiner! and he's made out to be such an "emo" I had to roll his eyes while he whined about how unhappy he was, and it was as if NOTHING could absolutely make him content not even for a full fledged chapter. Even as I finished the book, I still found that I did not like him. He just wasn't that great, he was the main character, yes, and you saw the story through his eyes but he wasn't really what you might think as a main character would be (not your stereotypical character in fantasy novels I suppose). I found myself drawn to Eliot more, only because of his charm and although at first I wasn't that impressed with Alice, she earned a lot of respect from me towards the end of the novel. She certainly was a realist and was the main anchor and stability to the group of friends. Character development was great. They were all well rounded and developed as they grew older (except Quentin, who eventually matures much much later in the book).

    So the only thing I disliked about the novel was Quentin and his whiny personality. Even the part with his rocky romance with Alice aggravated me. He is definitely not boyfriend material to me. (More like sledgehammer bashing material). As to the ending, I am now curious and intrigued. Is there going to be a sequel, because if there is, count me in. I'm definitely going to read it! there were some questions I found myself asking. Especially when I reached the ending.

    Overall, it's a great book when you're in the mood for something serious, but something with fantasy as well. Be forewarned, it's not a happy go lucky epic quest, it's quite dark and serious. Nevertheless it was a great dramatic coming of age read that will leave you asking for more.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2011

    Incredibly boring

    Characters are flat. Lacks any of the magic of the Harry Potter series. Just a tale of some once bright teenagers basically dropping out of society and becoming alcoholics.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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