The Ultimate Harry Potter Tag

You know me, I never go too long without expressing a lil’ bit of the old Harry Potter love. Tomorrow night I’m attending an HP trivia, dress up, and treasure hunt event at my favourite bookstore so it seemed like the perfect time to tackle this chunky HP Q&A tag. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. I’ve no clue where it originated from but if you know, pop it in the comments and I’ll give them the credit they’re due.


1. Favourite Book?

Goblet of Fire has always been my favourite. I love the challenges (come on, dragons anyone?), Draco Malfoy as a ferret, the Quidditch world cup, introduction of the other schools onto the scene, and dramatic ending. Plus, it’s the last book before things become dark and serious.

Image result for goblet of fire gif

2. Least Favourite Book?

Order of the Phoenix. It’s not that I don’t like Order of the Phoenix, I do, it’s just a lot heavier (in tone and physically) than the previous books. Harry’s extremely angsty through large chunks of it, Sirius dies at the end, and I hate how Dumbledore spends the entire book blowing Harry off. Also, Umbridge. She’s worse than Voldemort.

3. Favourite Movie?

I adore Philosopher’s Stone because it’s the very first and has such a purity to it but my favourites are probably Prisoner of Azkaban (Buckbeak, Lupin, time turners, werewolves, so much to love) and Deathly Hallows Part 2 (it’s not exactly true to book but I love the epicness of the fight sequences).

4. Least Favourite Movie?

Order of the Phoenix. Now, this was a book that could have used two films. They stripped that novel down to the barest of bones and left it feeling hollow and bleak. There’s barely any of the character building elements other than the DA and I feel sad when I think about all of the wonderful side plots that were missed out on.

5. Favourite Quote?

There are so many wonderful quotes in this series, I couldn’t possibly pick just one so here are some of my favourites (which I’m sure you’ve all heard many, many times before):

“…[T]he world isn’t split into good people and death eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” – Sirius Black

“If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals” – Sirius Black

“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.” – Albus Dumbledore

And a quote that’s especially important to remember in the world of today:

“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” – Albus Dumbledore

6. Favourite Weasley

Fred and George – they’re a package deal. They never fail to make me laugh and I enjoy every scene they’re in.

Related image

7. Favourite Female Character?

Hermione Granger – it may seem a bit cliche but Hermione was one of my favourite characters growing up. She was brave, hardworking, smart, and without her, poor Harry would have been a very dead chosen one not far into the series.

8. Favourite Villain?

This is a tough one. Umbridge, for example, is a “good” villain but she also happens to annoy the hell out of me. I think I may go with Barty Crouch Jr/Mad Eye Moody for this one. Mad Eye is such an entertaining character in Goblet of Fire, but because it’s not actually him, I guess it’s Barty I find so enjoyable. I like the unpredictability, the thought and patience that went into his plans, and the backstory to him ending up masquerading as Moody.

9. Favourite Male Character?

I have a bit of a soft spot for Neville. He’s such a sweet character – clumsy, forgetful, and loves plants. How could you not love that? I also like the fact that over time he gets more chances to showcase just why he got selected for Gryffindor house – deep down, he’s got the heart of a lion (well, except where Snape and his Grandma are concerned).

Image result for harry potter gif

10. Favourite Professor?

Minerva McGonagall – that woman is amazing. The sass alone is enough but she also happens to be a badass who can shapeshift into a cat. Need I say more?

Lupin gets points as well for always having a stash of chocolate on hand.

11. Wash Snape’s Hair, or Spend a Day Listening to Lockhart Rant about Himself?

Snape’s hair because I’m sure there’s an easy spell for that somewhere.

12. Duel and Elated Bellatrix, Or an Angry Molly?

An angry Molly because Bellatrix is freaking scary and crazy as hell. At least Molly could probably be reasoned with. Probably.

13. Travel to Hogwarts Via Hogwarts Express or Flying Car?

The Hogwarts Express, hands down. Watch all the beautiful scenery go by and eat a million sweets from the trolley at the same time, yes, please!

Image result for hogwarts express gif

14. Kiss Voldemort, or Give Umbridge a Bubble Bath?

Er, neither. Is that an option? If not, maybe the bubble bath provided I get earplugs and a blindfold.

15. Ride a Hippogriff, or Ride a Firebolt?

Definitely a Firebolt. As lovely as Buckbeak is, I’m not so big on birds (terrified of them actually) and hippogriffs have eagle heads so that’d be a no. Broom all the way.

16. Is there a Character you felt Differently about in the Movies VS the Books?

Ah, Ginny. I really, really like Ginny in the books – she’s such a strong character but she’s massively shortchanged in the films to the point where she’s almost a non-entity unless the plot specifically requires her to show up e.g. Chamber of Secrets, romancing Harry. So disappointing

17. Is there a Movie you preferred over its book?

I do love the movies, but no. The books are better.

18. Richard Harris or Michael Gambon as Dumbledore?

I think Richard Harris is absolutely the perfect Dumbledore. Visually he’s fantastic and just has the perfect combination of quiet strength, quirkiness, kindness, and intelligence that Dumbledore possesses. However, there are moments where I wonder how he would have done with some of the more action-packed parts of the books such as the fight with Voldemort in book 5, especially since Michael Gambon managed these very well. Guess we’ll never know.

Image result for dumbledore gif

19. Your Top Thing (Person or Event) which wasn’t Included in the Movies that Annoyed you the Most?

God. Just one? Peeves, SPEW and the house elves (especially Winky), Hermione & Ron’s prefecture, Hermione blackmailing Rita Skeeter to help Harry, Cho blowing up at Harry in some teeny-tiny teashop, there are so many things I wish had been included but I recognise the fact that a lot of them weren’t necessary to the overall plot.

20. If you could Remake any of the Potter Movies, which would it be?

Order of the Phoenix, surprise, surprise. I’d split it in two and add in more of the side plots from the book to enrich the characters and story.

21. Which House was your First Gutfeeling you’d be a Part of?

I think everyone wanted to be a Gryffindor when they were little but as I got older I came to realise that Hufflepuff is where my heart truly lies. Loyalty, honesty, and dormitories right near the kitchen. Sounds about right.

22. Which House were you Actually Sorted into on Pottermore?

Back before Pottermore was re-vamped, I did the quiz and got sorted into Hufflepuff. After the changes, I had to do the quiz again for some reason and ended up in Gryffindor, surprisingly. I guess I’m more a Gryffinpuff (or Huffledor) than I realised.

23. Which Class would be your Favourite?

I think Charms would be a lot of fun – levitating feathers, freezing things, making your wand light up, and so on, but Defence Against the Dark Arts could be exciting as well.

Image result for wingardium leviosa gif

24. Which Spell do you Think would be the Most Useful to Learn?

Lumos would certainly be useful when you need to do something in the middle of the night without waking everyone up (or stepping on a cat, in my case), but I’m extremely lazy so Accio would probably be my pick.

25. Which Character do you Think You’d Instantly Become Best Friends with?

Hagrid – I could teach him how to bake better and he could convince me to get out of the house more. Plus the hugs would be amazing, and I’d get to pat Fang.

26. If you Could Own One of the Three Hallows, Which Would it be?

The invisibility cloak. Nobody should have the power of the Elder Wand, plus I don’t want people murdering me for it.  The stone scares me a little and it seems a bit unhealthy in encouraging you not to let go of those who’ve died. However, I can’t deny that it’d certainly be cool to have conversations with some famous dead people.

Image result for invisibility cloak gif

27. Is there any Aspect of the Books You’d Want to Change?

Hm, I haven’t read them in a few years now so things aren’t as fresh in my mind as they could be. The only thing that comes to mind at the moment is maybe the first section of Deathly Hallows. There’s a lot of what feels like nothing and during my first read, it did get a bit boring. I wish there’d been more direction, less bickering.

28. Favourite Marauder?

All of them are great except Peter but if I had to pick, probably Lupin as James and Sirius did some bullying in their teen years which I’m not a fan of.

29. If you could Bring one Character Back to Life, which would it be?

Hedwig. I don’t even like birds and her death was bloody traumatising. I get it was supposed to be about the loss of innocence and all that, but really, WHY??

Related image

30. Hallows or Horcruxes?

Hallows. I’m not really up for (a) murdering people, (b) tearing up my soul, or (c) living forever. Nope, nope, nope.Divider

There we have it, 30 questions done! Some of them were quite difficult, too. Doing this definitely made me want to do a re-read of the series. It’s been AGES. But when do I find the time? The TBR just never stops growing (aka. I never stop buying new books, so it’s my own fault).

Enough from me, tell me all about your own HP favourites and disappointments! What’s your house, favourite book, and fave character?

Love Ashley

Advertisements

Top 10 Tuesday: Best Book to Movie/TV Adaptations, Part 2

I wasn’t really in the mood to do this week’s TTT post because (a) it’s winter here, (b) then I have to ask, what the hell is a “winter read”, and (c) I’m likely to do a TBR post soon. Instead I’m doing an older topic from The Broke and the Bookish‘s archives which is top ten best/worst book adaptations. The criteria for making this type of list is always hard because is it a matter of how closely the adaptation followed the source material or is it about the quality of the actual adaptation? In my case, it’s usually a bit of both. I’m cool with the adaptation making changes to the book’s story as long as they’re good changes and don’t mess with my enjoyment of the movie/show. I actually did this same topic for a top ten last year but since then I’ve seen a few other adaptations that I’ve thought were pretty good. Then there were others that missed out on my original list. Besides, no-one’s ever said you can’t do the same topic twice. And well, if they have…er, my blog, my rules, I guess.Divider1

Related image

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn

This is a dark and slightly odd book with a significant shift right in the middle. The movie does a great job of matching it’s eerie tone and remains very close to the book’s plot. Rosamund Pike is perfect as deranged “cool girl” Amy, while Ben Affleck also does a great job as her imperfect husband, Nick. The only thing I wish it’d done was include the couple’s final lines of dialogue.


2

Image result for thirteen reasons why book vs show

Thirteen Reasons Why – Jay Asher

Controversy aside, in my opinion TRW is a good adaptation of Jay Asher’s book and in a lot of ways, I think it even surpasses it. Often where adaptations deviate from their source material, it’s a bad thing but with this one it works well. The decision to spread Clay’s experience with the tapes over several days instead of one night and actually taking the time to flesh out each of the characters involved enhances the story and ideas of the novel rather than damages them.


3

Call Me By Your Name

Call Me by your Name – Andre Aciman

This is a beautifully written book, and although it’s difficult to transfer prose and imagery over to film easily, this adaptation manages to capture the tone of the novel instead through scenery, music, camera angles, and expressions. The set locations are stunning and the casting is absolutely perfect. Also, while the ending is a little different from the novel (which is sort of an extension on the film), it’s still fits the spirit of the story whilst still being damn heartbreaking.


4

Image result for love simon book vs movie

Love, Simon (Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda) – Becky Albertalli

I had high expectations for this one and to my relief, it met them. This is another adaptation where there were a few changes made to the plot, mostly in terms of cuts (likely for time reasons). However, the movie never strays from the feeling of the book and is always true to the characters. It’s super adorable, majorly feel-good, diverse, and an easy movie to re-watch.


5

Image result for the martian book vs movie

The Martian – Andy Weir

The success of The Martian as a book rests heavily on the humour, sass and strength of it’s main character, Mark, and this translated extremely successfully over to the adaptation. Matt Damon is fantastic in the role, as is the rest of the cast of famous faces. The movie’s funny, visually striking, and also manages to get a bit less bogged down in some of the scientific elements than the book, which is a big plus.


6

Handmaid's

The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood

I had heard that this particular series was quite different from the book but after recently, finally, watching it, I found it to actually be quite similar. Yes, some of the ages are different and you get a lot more background with regards to the characters and how Gilead came about, but for me these additions have enhanced the story and answered a lot of questions that I know I had while reading the book. The acting is great all around and the show itself is extremely addictive, even if it’s sometimes hard to watch.


7

it2

It – Stephen King

I don’t usually do horror movies, at all. I am the biggest wuss you will ever meet but I was determined to see the 2017 movie adaptation of this book and despite looking through my fingers at several points, I really, really enjoyed it. The child actors are all great in their roles and Pennywise is damn scary. Although the movie only focuses on the child part of the book, it’s still a HUGE book and they did a great job cutting down the story while still keeping the important parts intact. Definitely looking forward to part 2 next year.


8

ATTWN

And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie

There have been a lot of adaptations of this particular story, because it’s just so good! In this instance though I’m referencing the 2015 BBC mini-series. This version dwells on the darker undertones in Christie’s story, making it a little bit more modern somehow but it still remains both stylish and true to the novel, right to the very, bitter end. Also, it doesn’t hurt that there’s some eye candy in the form of Mr Aidan Turner.


9

Divergent

Divergent – Veronica Roth

Say what you will about the later entries in the series, both films and books (*cough* they sucked *cough), but I really like the adaptation of the first book (Yep, judge away, I know). I’ll admit, they did cut out and strip down some characters (e.g. Edward), and rework certain plot elements but I liked the casting and the story changes never really impaired my enjoyment of the movie. Now I just happily watch it as a stand-alone.


10

Image result for the fault in our stars book vs movie

The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

Alright, I’m not a huge John Green fan but having read the book and seen the movie for this particular one, even I have to say that it’s a well done adaptation that should have satisfied fans of the book. The actors are chosen well  (Shailene does a great job as Hazel), the plot sticks closely to the book, the tone of the movie is very JG-esque, and the ending is still grab your tissues worthy (okay, well, for those people that aren’t me).


BonusRelated image

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – Stieg Larsson

Two adaptations were made of this novel, one English speaking and the other in Swedish and surprisingly, both of them are not only very close to the book but well done too. The actors in each version do a great job bringing the characters to life, especially Rooney Mara and Noomi Rapace as Lisbeth, and the plot is mysterious and engaging. Be warned though, this isn’t a lighthearted book and neither movie shies away from the darker content.

Divider

And there we have it, another top ten done and dusted. Was there a favourite of yours that I missed? It might have been on my first list on this topic published last year. You can find that Top 10 here.

What are some recent adaptations that you’ve enjoyed?

Love Ashley

 

Page to Screen: Ready Player One

Image result for Ready Player One

Today I’m adding a new segment to my blog (woo hoo!), ‘Page to Screen’, where I’ll look at book adaptations, compare them to their source material, evaluate what worked and what didn’t, determine which medium reigned supreme, and so on. First up to the plate is Spielberg’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s, Ready Player One.

Let me say, first and foremost, there are some huge changes from the book in this one. So, if you’re a purist or massive fan of the novel, you’re likely going to be uncomfortable or mad for at least the first half hour or so before you adjust. Prepare yourself.

THE CHALLENGES

The biggest change from the book was the clues and challenges to find Halliday’s egg. In the book there are three keys and three gates, each with its own test. In the movie there’s one gate and the tests are limited to the keys ONLY. This cuts down a lot of the book but for time constraints, it’s perfectly reasonable. Additionally, almost none of the challenges in the movie are taken directly from the book and it’s for one obvious reason: to make the movie more understandable and marketable to the masses.

The movie begins with the test for the first key which is, believe it or not, a freaking car race. I almost spat the dummy right then and there. But once Wade actually had to do some thinking and research to beat the challenge, I calmed down a bit. By the time we’d reached challenge two, which involved a fantastic sequence set inside the film, The Shining, I began to realise that these changes were probably a good thing. While they aren’t a direct adaptation of the book, they remain largely in the spirit and tone of it.

THE WORLD

As this is a movie, there’s a lot less time to spend describing the conditions in the real world or the nature of The Oasis in lengthy detail. The film does its best through the use of Wade’s voice over and a short, flashy sequence at the beginning but the book has the one up on this one purely due to available time for exposition.

Also, in case you weren’t aware, ¾ of the movie is CGI Oasis. The real world is showcased a bit more in the second half but you’re going to be looking at the characters’ avatars A LOT, so get used to it fast.

CHARACTERS

Wade

I’ll be blunt: Wade’s character is lacking here. The degree of  credit he’s given in the film is increased but at the same time, the amount of stuff his character actually does is less. There’s no period in which he re-evaluates his priorities and shapes himself into a mentally and physically stronger person, and no infiltration of IOI (the bit from the book that really does show him off as the hero Cline wants him to be). And still, we get a scene in which Art3mis tells Wade he’s the best of them all and that he’ll win because of it. I mean, really?

Art3mis

On the flip side, Art3mis is given a lot more screen time and things to do, taking over some of Wade’s roles. Compared to the book, we see her in the real world far earlier and it’s Arty that ends up stuck in IOI. At first this seems like it’ll just be a rescue situation but then she starts kicking ass, and I’ve come to see it as another solid deviation choice. Extra depth is also added to Art3mis’s back story regarding IOI and her father. She’s given motives aside from simple altruism and a role in the film’s so called resistance (an unnecessary new element that isn’t really developed or explained).

The Other Top 5

Diversity was maintained here and one character survived where their book counterpart did not. However, notably, Shoto and Daito do get short changed in the development department as the section of the book in which they go questing with Wade has been cut. It’s a sad but understandable loss but then again, even with more screen time, some of the other major characters are still somewhat difficult to connect with at times.

IOI & Sorrento

IOI and Sorrento remain very much the same – they’re still complete dicks and very much the greedy corporation, desperate for power and money. Sorrento comes off as a bit of a lame villain at times and is perhaps given maybe a touch too much screen time whilst his side kick of sorts, Zandor, is a tad wooden for my liking.

OTHER MINOR POINTS

  • Time constraints also restrict the development of Art3mis and Wade’s relationship, with him dropping the L bomb ridiculously and creepily early in the time line.
  • The climax of the movie drags on too long. Sure, giant robots fighting and watching IOI goons get wiped out is fun, but there is a limit.
  • I liked how the film dealt with James Halliday’s character – he’s a sad figure with good motivations behind his actions but I wish we’d been able to see more of his history

Overall, the film manages to improve on some of the weaknesses of the novel but it comes with new flaws of its own. Yet, despite its problems, Ready Player One was an entertaining way to spend a few hours and I’m glad I went to see it.

Divider

AS AN ADAPTATION : Not good, a lot of changes from the book.

AS A FILM : Entertaining, but not amazing. 6.8/10

You can find my review of the book here.

Top 10 Tuesday: Best Book to Movie & TV adaptations

TTT is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. As I said last week, it’s currently on hiatus and because I haven’t been participating until now, I have heaps of past topics to choose from until it comes back in August! This week I’m doing adaptations. The original topic was just movies but I’ve decided to extend it to include TV shows as well. So here are 10 adaptations that I feel managed to live up to the source material, or even managed to exceed it. I’ve only listed ones that I’ve both seen the adaptation and read at least one book (that is, if it’s a series). Trust me when I say this is just a very small portion of the adaptations out there that I completely love.


1. Harry Potter

How could I not put this on my list? While the bigger book adaptations did have their flaws, I still enjoy the film series massively as a whole. However, the first three movies are really close to the books and are absolutely fantastic. I still get the same amazing feeling of wonder every time I see Philosopher’s Stone.


2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The author wrote the screenplay, the cast was perfectly chosen – enough said.


3. Silence of the Lambs

Such a great thriller in both forms. Hannibal Lecter does come off a little differently in the book to the film but each form is fantastic.


4. Poldark (2015)

The show, the first season at least, is ridiculously close to the first and second books and has the benefit of (a) Aidan Turner and (b) being able to see the beauty of the sweeping Cornish landscape.


5. The Lord of the Rings

I actually am not a fan of these books. The films, however, are one of my favourite film series ever. They’re shot spectacularly, acted well and manage to bring out Tolkien’s great plot without having to deal with his smug, over informative writing style.


6. Game of Thrones

This is a fantasy adaptation done extremely right. I love this show. Me and millions of others around the world. It’d be a crime to leave it off a list like this. Great characters, amazing shooting locations, appreciation for the source material, and a willingness to go big, this is definitely the adaptation fans deserved.


7. Outlander

One of my favourite shows as I’m currently doing a rewatch, it’s very much on the brain. I’ve mentioned it a hundred times, and I’ll mention it a hundred times more in the future. The actors are perfect in their roles and the story follows the books quite closely, even when it comes to things you’d rather not see. Action, romance, history, beautiful scenery, a swoon worthy lead… I’m in heaven, really.


8. Matilda

I almost put Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory here, but I’ve decided to go with Matilda. It’s a great story and translated really well to screen. Definitely something I enjoyed watching a lot as a kid.


9. Anne of Green Gables (1985)

So, let’s just ignore the third TV movie and focus on the first two which are really great, especially the original. It’s really close to the book and Megan Follows is perfect as Anne. To be honest, I find the most recent Netflix adaptation a bit too dark and gritty which is not why I enjoy Anne. These films encapsulate the feeling of Montgomery’s characters and story really well.


10. The Hunger Games

Fantastic adaptations of a great series of books. I even feel that the second movie, Catching Fire, improves on the book in many ways. It always hits me hard when I finish the series in either form.


There we are, finished! There are a lot of other amazing movies and TV shows I’ve seen which were adaptations of books but because I haven’t read the original source material, I couldn’t list them.  Guess I’ll have to get reading! I’m definitely looking forward to seeing the new It adaptation later this year even though I get absolutely terrified in horror films and it’s recently been announced that Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle will be getting it’s own Syfy TV series soon so that’s exciting!

Which adaptations have been your favourite? Which adaptations are you most looking forward to?

Love Ashley

 

When the Adaptation Exceeds the Source Material: ‘The Magicians’ by Lev Grossman

2.5 stars

To start, I’d like to openly admit that I’m a fan of Syfy’s series The Magicians. It’s for precisely this reason that despite some discouraging Goodreads reviews I was eager to give Grossman’s book a go. In my experience, one of the most generally accepted tenets among book lovers is: the book is always better. I have to say, nine times out of ten I’m completely on board with this argument. Books are not limited by special effects budgets, they have a great deal of time to flesh out relevant characters, can utilise endless scene locations, and have the room to create complex, detail-oriented plots. Essentially, with books, the author’s imagination is the limit. However, like I said, this is not a perfect rule as on some occasions adaptations manage to excel beyond the source material. In my opinion, The Magicians is one of those cases. Because of my enjoyment of the show, separating my views on it from those on the book was going to extremely difficult so instead, I’ve decided to just embrace it to the absolute maximum which means a crap-ton of Magicians gifs. Let’s get stuck in, shall we?

Overview

As The Magicians begins we meet seventeen-year-old, Quentin Coldwater. Quentin is a little introverted and moody with a love of magic tricks and a slight obsession with a children’s series called ‘Fillory and Further’ (think, the Chronicles of Narnia and you’ll get the picture). He’s due to attend an interview for Princeton University however he arrives to find that his interviewer is dead. Amongst the interviewer’s things is an envelope bearing his name which leads to him to discover the existence of a school for magicians called Brakebills. Upon passing the entrance exams, Quentin begins the five-year process of learning to adeptly use his magical powers and eventually comes to discover that there are other worlds than this one. More importantly, that everything in his favourite books is real. I could go into more detail but nobody likes an info dump (I’m looking at you, Tolkien).

Plot

The Magicians has often been described as Harry Potter for adults with a little bit of Narnia thrown in. I can definitely see where the inspiration has come into play but overall The Magicians is very different to either of these stories. It’s a bit like saying that just because crocodiles live in water, they’re like fish. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that if you think like this, you’re going to get insanely confused and majorly disappointed.

The structure of the novel is broken up into four books. Book I takes up a substantial chunk of the novel and consists of Quentin’s time at Brakebills. Unlike in the series, there’s a very clear sense of time progression here and we witness the entirety of Quentin’s schooling. Because of this, events take place over quite a broad timeline and I feel this is something the novel excels in over the series (I still have no idea how long Quentin’s been at school at this point and I constantly question how they’re still enrolled when they NEVER seem to go to class!). Over the length of the five year period, we see Quentin build relationships with his friends from the physical magic disciplines, begin a romantic relationship with classmate, Alice, complete a semester in Antarctica, and gradually build his magical abilities. Book I is a fun and interesting read, even when the plot points start to border on the ridiculous. Yet, naked running to the South Pole and attempts to reach the moon aside (yes, I kid you not), these elements were enough to get me to read this section of the novel super quickly.

Upon reaching book II, we quickly hit a snag = GRADUATION. With the school structure having been removed and all foreseeable goals for the characters basically non-existent, the story soon loses all direction. It’s very difficult to maintain interest during this segment and better yet, to keep loving the characters as all they seem to do is spend money, do drugs and drink to excess. Even Eliot began to drive me up the wall at this point. I sat there wondering: While as fun as this is guys, don’t we have a plot to be getting back to?

Syfy GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Syfy GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

At last Penny arrives and we’re off to Fillory but unfortunately, book III continues to experience additional problems in pacing and character. Character-wise, several unnecessary and rather boring people are introduced and the people we do care about spend pages bickering over dumb things like children. Plot-wise, we meander again without much of a purpose in sight. Grossman’s priorities at this point in time seemed dangerously like (a) talking bear, (b) talking tree, and then (c) plot.

Syfy GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Finally, after much time spent in some random inn in which Quentin drinks too much beer and the others sulk, we find a new purpose and the fab 5 (plus some ring-ins) begin working towards it like good little characters do. We then get to suffer through a lot of boring and lengthy violence – which seemingly comes out of nowhere and I’m still don’t understand the reason for it. Once this passes we come to the climax, the fight with the big bad….And here we are at one of the novel’s biggest flaws, the villain.

In The Magicians series, the story’s villain is present as a threat to the characters throughout the series from the very first episode. Their identity is hidden but it’s made clear that this is someone to be very concerned about. As the season progresses we learn more about the history of this character and how they’ve come to be in this position. Better yet, the final fight is something that is gradually built up to for some time – we know the stakes and unlikelihood of success. The book is very different in this aspect. While the villain’s introduction is done very similarly to the show, perhaps even more dramatically with the cannibalisation of a student, this is where the likeness ends. After this scene we don’t see the person again until the final fight. There’s no palpable build-up and no lingering feelings of being unsafe or threatened. I mean, if some dude had randomly appeared in my classroom and EATEN one of my classmates it’d be a bit hard for me to just forget about it, but clearly that’s just me. Instead, towards the end, the guy just appears out of nowhere like a jump scare in a B-grade horror movie. He might as well have yelled, “Did you forget about ME bitches?” Why yes, yes we did. Regardless of this, the identity of the villain and the scene itself actually are exciting and well done – we’ve got crazy spell-casting, Alice turning into a dragon, severed limbs, a character death, it’s all happening guys! Following this, the book ends on a period of quiet in which we find ourselves alone with Quentin to emotionally deal with events before being left on a minor cliffhanger.

Characters

Let’s begin at the centre, Quentin. Before buying the book, I found there to be a general consensus on Quentin:

For a bit over the first half of the book, I sat there going: Hm, I wonder why everyone finds Quentin so annoying and depressive, he’s a little bland but not that bad. Oh, but I had yet to reach Book II and III. How the tables turned…Early on Quentin seems to act like every other boy in his age group – he has a tendency to crush on any attractive girl in the vicinity, thinks about boobs a bit too often, and expresses a general lack of fulfilment by his schooling, relationships, and achievements. HOWEVER, then we hit book II and Quentin decides to become the whingy, self-destructive, pain in the ass that everyone warned me he would be.

To give you the basic idea, in the land of Quentin, logic goes like this…

(a) Amazing relationship –> let’s destroy it and then treat our ex-girlfriend like crap

(b) Penny brings me news that fantasy world I’ve been dreaming about my entire life is actually real –> Be super bitchy to him and generally just act like a cow.

(c) Finally visiting said fantasy land after weeks of planning–> meh, whatever, going to mope about ruining my relationship instead.

In other words, Quentin is essentially a wet blanket personified.

Alongside Quentin we also have his core group of friends, the physical magic kids – Alice, Eliot, Janet, and Josh. In the series, both Alice and Eliot are two of my favourite characters and they’re largely the same on paper as they are on TV. Eliot, the alcoholic, sassy, simply fabulous creature that he is, is basically impossible to dislike but I do wish he’d had more character development. Alice, now dark-haired, is still kind, intelligent, dedicated, and a complete badass magician. While she definitely deserves better than Quentin in a partner, I still can’t help but ship it. Their relationship evolves nicely over the course of several years and they just kind of fit, like crazy, awkward puzzle pieces.

Janet and Josh are a bit more take-it-or-leave-it characters. Josh plays a much more prominent role in the books than he does in the series in that he’s just as key a member of the group as they are. He’s overweight and a little low on confidence in his magical abilities but does help them out of a few tight spots. Janet is bossy, a little bit vindictive, and very confident in herself. Although unlike Margo, her TV counterpart, Janet is missing that necessary spark and never really succeeded in growing on me.

Outside the core five, there’s Penny and Julia. Julia, Quentin’s former best friend, gets little page time here. She pops up in person about three times in somewhat odd, brief scenes that don’t seem realistic at all as Quentin can never seem to actually recognise her. By the end of the book she’s become a powerful magician on her own, a path we don’t find out about until The Magician King. Penny, Quentin’s sort of rival, is vastly different to his TV character. Yes, he still has the ability to “travel” but can only make it as far as dimensional limbo. Penny is eccentric, excitable, and really rather odd. His character makes little sense half the time and leaves you with what I can only describe as literary whiplash.

Writing & Tone

Grossman’s writing is largely clear and he doesn’t waste much time with flowery language or descriptions. The first half of the book does have some great funny moments and dialogue that will get you to laugh out loud a few times but for me, this seemed to disappear the more the novel went on. Much like the show, the book does tend to lend itself to a cruder tone at times. While in the show this serves to create humour, here these inclusions just feel a bit cringe-y, almost like Grossman has decided that this is how he’ll appeal to the cool kids. Do I really need to know that Quentin’s urine was extremely yellow and slightly painful coming out? Do we need to talk about how much the fourth year class shit everywhere while transformed into geese? And, do I really need to know just how “hung” that giant was? The answer to all three questions is: nope.

Syfy GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

While the first half of The Magicians is a fun, interesting read about teens developing their magical powers, the rest of the novel gets bogged down by flaws in plotting, the lack of a strong antagonist, and some unlikeable characters.

2.5 Stars