Monday, July 30, 2012

CBR IV # 21 - The Magicians by Lev Grossman

It is true, The Magicians is sort of like Harry Potter for grown ups.  And a little bit if Narnia in the mix.  It's cynical and grown up and I guess with more realistic elements if you can call it that.

Quentin Coldwater was a  gifted student living in Brooklyn, applying for colleges with his two bestfriends when he suddenly finds himself in a magical school in England.  He takes a rigorous exam and is accepted at Brakebills, the aforementioned school of magic.

The story takes us from his days in the school where he makes some friends, to his graduation and re-entry into the real world, to their entry into the even more magical world of Filory.

Unlike in Harry Potter where there is a truly separate world of magicians with real magician jobs and magician government, the graduates of Braksebill reenter the real world.  They have a trust fund provided by the school, so they don't really work.  They are rudderless and just floating around with so much power and nothing to use it on.

That is until Penny, a weirdo (even for magic school standards) former classmates shows up and says he's found a way to enter a sort of alternate universe, Filory.  Filory was actually a universe written about in a series of books wherein a group of siblings find their way in there.  Like Narnia.  There are magical beings and evil creatures.  So the group starts an adventure in that wonderful, weird land.

Although nothing really happened, I liked the first part, the Harry Potter part better than the Narnia part.    Maybe I was expecting too much.  I mean, I liked it, it was unusual, but I wasn't super wowed by it.  I mean, I haven't even read the second book yet.

CBR IV # 26 - With Your Crooked Heart by Helen Dunmore

This is one of those extremely poetic books where I feel like I'm dreaming when I'm reading.  What I mean is, there's a dreamlike quality to the writing and every little incident is huge and magnified.  Every emotion is felt (or not) and mundane actions become beautiful or grotesque.

Louise is married to Paul, a successful and well to do man.  He didn't start out rich though.  He was a young man who clawed himself from poverty.  He has a much younger brother Johnny who he protects and takes care of.

The story starts off with Louise, feeling beautifully pregnant and naked, living a dream life in a garden paradise in the middle of London.  It would seem like she has everything, rich husband, beautiful flat, and smoldering brother in law (ok maybe not that part).  Well, a few years after that and Louise is a fucked up alcoholic mess.  She's fat, her kid is under the custody of her husband, who has remarried and moved to the country. She is left with nothing really, except drink and the sometime company of Johnny.  She is an absolute mess.

The story moves from Louise to her little girl in the country.  Stuff happens.  Changes are made in their lives and the ending left me feeling a bit confused (like I was dreaming) and inexplicable affected and touched.  I'm not entirely sure what the meaning of the book is, I'm not even sure I like it, but it made me feel weird and sort of sad.