The Magicians (TV Review)

I did something stupid and watched the special preview of The Magicians and as expected I loved it and now I am angry with myself for having to wait so incredibly long. I will only roughly mention what happened, because I don’t want to spoil anyone, but I cannot help needing to talk about it.

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For all of you who still don’t know, I’ve read the Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman this year and it’s left quite the impression on me. I already did a little trailer talk for the show, but I honestly have to say that I am relieved that I actually loved it as much as I did in the end! The series is about Quentin Coldwater, a guy who never felt like he belonged until he got invited to study at Brakebills University for Magic. In a way it’s Narnia with a dash of Harry Potter but for grown-ups (and I really mean that last part!).

The pacing in the first book was a little strange by rushing through Quentin’s education and now the show definitely isn’t wasting time either. I think it’s even more extreme than the book in some ways, but to go into detail would mean that I have to spoil you for the premiere and I don’t want to do that. Somehow they have managed to stay very true to the story and change almost everything at the same time. They’ve stayed faithful with so many details, but then they just up and went to change the timeline, names, the whole story of some characters. It’s odd at first, but because they’ve done it in such a great way, it simply works!

Another thing I have to commend Syfy for is the casting! Okay, not everyone looks the way they did in the book (I’m looking at you Penny!), but I think they made the perfect choice anyway. Jason Ralph as Quentin is this cute dork and just so much more likable than his book-version. My favourite character, Elliot, looks exactly the way I pictured him and Hale Appleman gives him exactly the right attitude. And then Julia! Stella Maeve seriously knows how to portray her despair! I could swoon over the rest of the cast just as much, but maybe you should just take a look at yourself.

The first episode pulled you right in, was funny, intriguing, extreme and fast paced. It left with a huge cliffhanger so I am happy to hear that the actual Premiere on January 8, 2016 will be a double-episode. As an enthusiast of the books, I have to say that the show gave me everything I wanted and so much more! I hope you’ll give it a try in 2016 so we can all gush together! Did anyone else watch the Special Preview?

The Magician King Book Review

I’ve done it! I’ve finally continued with the Magician Trilogy by Lev Grossman and can cross of the first book from my September TBR, namely the second book in the series: The Magician King. Despite my worries, I actually enjoyed this book a lot more than the first part! So, since I already reviewed the the first book The Magicians spoiler-free (click here to read it), this review will obviously contain Spoilers!!

10819920Quentin Coldwater should be happy. He escaped a miserable Brooklyn childhood, matriculated at a secret college for magic, and graduated to discover that Fillory—a fictional utopia—was actually real. But even as a Fillorian king, Quentin finds little peace. His old restlessness returns, and he longs for the thrills a heroic quest can bring.
Accompanied by his oldest friend, Julia, Quentin sets off—only to somehow wind up back in the real world and not in Fillory, as they’d hoped. As the pair struggle to find their way back to their lost kingdom, Quentin is forced to rely on Julia’s illicitly learned sorcery as they face a sinister threat in a world very far from the beloved fantasy novels of their youth.
(source: Goodreads)

As I mentioned above, I liked this book better than the first one. The characters were a little less miserable or at least slowly figuring out what makes them happy. Also, the pacing wasn’t as terribly off, even though the structure of this book was very similar to the first one, separating it in 4 major parts as well.

Part 1: The gang (Eliot, Janet, Quentin and Julia) have ruled in Fillory for a while now and Q is getting restless. It’s time for an adventure.

Part 2: Q messed up, because his quest only brought him and Julia back to earth and that’s the last place they want to be. With the unexpected help of Josh and an Australian girl named Poppy they manage to get back to Fillory.

Part 3: A year has passed since Q and Julia left Fillory and Eliot took on what should have been Q’s real quest all along. He wants to be a hero, unintentionally ends up in the destroyed Neitherlands, but actually finds out what the quest to find the 7 golden keys is really about.

Part 4: Having all the keys, the gang saves the day by keeping magic from getting extinct. But Quentin has to pay the ultimate price for being the hero – never being able to return to Fillory while leaving all his friends behind.

The Magician King offered a detailed account of what happened to Julia while Quentin was in Brakebills and I have to say that I could’ve easily done without some of the chapters. I get that it was important for her overall journey, to really understand how the events of the book and her change came about, but I am not one to dwell in the past (at least not in books). Often I just wanted to keep reading about what happened in the present, but the Julia-chapters were strategically positioned to be in between cliffhangers. It’s not that her story wasn’t interesting, I just wish her chapters were even more succinct and on point. (even though I will give them that they were shorter than normal chapters) I guess I just really didn’t like to read the rape-scene towards the end …

This time around there were a lot of characters I would’ve liked to hear more about. I was really glad that Q took Benedict on the journey and even more devastated when he died. I think that character would have had so much more potential and then they just had to leave him behind in the Underworld. Also, for some weird reason I wanted Q to take the children with him (Eleanor and Thomas) even though that would’ve been a terrible idea. Questing is no place for kids! Still, I have hopes of seeing Eleanor again in the story and poor Thomas should get to go on an adventure as well!

There is another map in the book, I am glad they keep putting those in! (As I said, maps are always a plus!!)

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So, ultimately there was a lot more excitement and action in The Magician King and I started to like Quentin a little better. In the end I just felt really sorry for him and it actually made me want to continue reading the series, which I am going to do right now.

Fazit: 3.8/5 stars. I am slowly warming up to Quentin and now I want to know how his story ends!

P.S. I have a hard time imagining any of the content from Book 2 in the upcoming Magicians TV show …

The Magicians TV Show Trailer & Thoughts

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As I mentioned in my last post, The Magicians by Lev Grossman (click here to read my full book review!) got adapted as a TV show by Syfy. You can watch the Trailer below and then I’ll share some thoughts about the differences and similarities between the book and what I saw of the show so far. This will include Spoilers for the book though!!

So, first off, I imagined this all VERY differently. None of the people look like I thought they would, but maybe that’s for the better. The cast is mostly unknown or at least not super famous and includes: Jason Ralph, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Stella Maeve (is that why you left Chicago PD Nadia?), Hale Appleman, Summer Bishil, Arjun Gupta, Rick Worthy and Anne Dudek

For those of you who know the characters, will be happy to hear that Quentin, Elliot, Alice and Julia exist and Julia plays an even bigger role than she did in the first book. As for Janet, she’ll be called Margo now (apparently because there were already too many names with “J”!) and Penny is there too but is Q’s roommate (that so can’t work …) and he’s not a punk at all. There’s no Josh or Anaïs though …

I think the show will focus a lot more on Quentin’s time at Brakebills, the College for Magical Pedagogy he attends. We can already see Quentin’s entry exam in the trailer, which looks fairly accurate to me. There is not much trace of Fillory yet and the blurb on imdb doesn’t mention it either. BUT it was said that we’ll get an early glimpse at it because Quentin will daydream about it a lot and obviously he’s reading the books. I have no idea when exactly it will come into play, because I could imagine that they just loosely based it on the novels and want to make it a more adult Harry Potter instead. I don’t know that for sure though.

There really can’t be much more deduced from the trailer, what are your thoughts? Either way, I am excited for the show simply because it’s about magic.

This Is Where I Leave You: Book vs. Movie

Since I haven’t talked about books in such a long time, and most of the books I read got adapted for the big screen,  I decided to compare the This Is Where I Leave You movie and book! Jonathan Tropper, the author of the book, also wrote the script for the movie, which lead me to believe that it would be a very faithful adaption. Some things definitely stayed the same, but there were more changes than I expected. I will give you a short summary of the synopsis and then name all the differences that I noticed, which means there are definitely Spoilers involved!

The core of the story didn’t change when it got adapted. This Is Where I Leave You deals with the fact that everyone mourns differently and that we all need our family sometimes – no matter how messed up it is. More specifically it is about four siblings and their mother, who have to sit Shiva (which is the mourning period in Judaism, where the first-degree relatives gather at one home and receive visitors for seven days). The family is not exactly close and it doesn’t take long for old rivalries, romances and accusations to surface again.

Now, before I get into full detail, I want to say that I liked the movie a bit more than I liked the book. The cast was chosen really well, consisting of Jason Bateman, Jane Fonda, Tina Fey, Adam Driver (so glad to see him in more movies now), Corey Stoll, Rose Byrne, Kathryn Hahn, Connie Britton, Timothy Olyphant, Abigail Spencer, Dax Shepard, Debra Monk and many more. The music was fitting the tone and I liked the pace of it. However, I think I enjoyed it more because I read the book before. Knowing all the background stories really helped making some scenes more emotional and meaningful. This Is Where I Leave You is one of those movies where you have to look at what’s underneath the surface to realise the struggle this family went trough and the love they have for each other.

But all that probably didn’t help you very much, so here are my more specific pointers on the differences between the movie and the book:

  • The first and most obvious difference I noticed was the fact that the family has a different surname. They went from Foxman to Altman for whatever reason … seriously, no idea why.
  • I enjoyed that we didn’t get to hear Judd’s thoughts. Of course that was necessary in the book – how else would you have told the story? But I sometimes really didn’t want to hear what he was thinking, especially not when he was horny again.
  • There was only one flashback to Judd’s childhood, which didn’t bother me while watching the movie at all, but ultimately ended up killing a lot of storylines. I usually don’t like flashbacks at all, but the one they did was perfect.
  • The entire background story of why Paul and Judd don’t get along was erased. Judd still dated Annie before she married Paul and that bothers him of course, but he no longer has this lingering anger towards Judd for ruining his career in sports. I actually liked that storyline in the book, especially because in the end it just amounted to a lot of miscommunication instead of actual feelings of hate.
  • The relationship between Judd and Penny was also different than in the book.  While teen book-Judd was madly in love with Penny, it seems that it was the other way round in the movie.
  • Okay, so there is this one thing, I am hugely relieved didn’t happen! Annie did not have sex with Judd in the movie! That was so messed up in the book and I just kept thinking how it would ruin Paul’s and Judd’s relationship forever, if Paul ever found out. Paul and Annie are such a lovely couple as well and while I understand Annie’s frustration about not getting pregnant, she went too far for my opinion.
  • The break-up between Tracey and Phillip was a little different. There wasn’t as much arguing involved and Phillip did not threaten to kill himself. I am not sure how I feel about that, but all the other scenes with Tracey were actually very faithful to the book.
  • Judd did not find out about Linda and his mother before all the others did. Which I sort of missed, because I actually thought the way he reacted when he first thought about it being a possibility was sweet. The way he just accepted it and didn’t judge them was great.
  • Judd never withdrew all the money from Quinn’s and his joined bank account.
  • I think I understood Horry’s and Wendy’s story a lot better, because I read the book. I could imagine some people not being as involved in their tragic, because they didn’t get the whole thing in the movie.
  • This is no particular difference, but Cole was beyond cute in the movie!

I hope I didn’t forget anything and I would love to hear your opinion! Have you read the book/watched the movie/both?