Monday, September 25, 2017

Puzzled . . . and Undecided. .

This was a re-read -- I first read it in 2011 and even blogged positively, if briefly, about it. But this time around, I found myself not so sure of how I felt.

The first part -- all about Brakebills, a school for magicians -- was enjoyable and compelling -- a grown up Harry Potter with a fair amount of teenage angst.

But the trip to Fillory  -- a very Narnia-like place -- bothered me. Grossman is a fan of C.S. Lewis's Narnia and, like Lewis,  is challenging the notion of fantasy as pure escape.  Indeed, in both Narnia and Fillory the protagonists learn that no matter where you go, you take yourself and all your baggage with you. If you're not happy in this world, there's no guarantee that another world will be better.

I agree with the premise . . . and if I hadn't grown up absorbed in Narnia and loving every minute I spent there, perhaps I could enjoy Grossman's novel more. But, for me, Fillory seemed like an obscene caricature or, at best, a heavy-handed spoof of Narnia, turning the sylphs and fauns, the talking animals and walking trees into silly, cynical things. 

Despite that reservation, I found myself engrossed in the characters and (since I didn't remember how things turned out) eager to keep reading. 

The NYT review HERE is pretty much spot on, in my opinion.

Now I have to decide if I want to keep going with the trilogy. I think I'll check my library -- I'm pretty sure I won't buy the next two for my Kindle.

What's strange is the difference in my reaction now and six years ago.  A good reminder to always give a book another chance because my attitudes may have changed.


Barbara Rogers said...

You're so right about changing attitudes in our reading entertainment/education. Sometimes I force myself to the end of books that have become less pleasurable, but usually I figure my time in life has gotten short, so I don't want to waste it in pursuits that aren't the best possible. That's sure a different attitude for me!

NCmountainwoman said...

Like you, I often surprise myself by my changing attitudes about certain books. It seems to be related to what else is going on in my life. The other thing I find is that I might start a book several times only to put it away. Finally something grabs me and I read that same book and thoroughly enjoy it. And it's difficult to figure out why I put it away so many times.

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I was given them for Christmas and loved all three , though I agree the first is the best .