Warp – Lev Grossman

I still haven’t read The Magicians. I saw the first season of the tv series, and enjoyed it, and I have the book, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Everything I’ve read about Warp indicates that The Magicians is miles better – and I hope so.

The description of the book on Goodreads made my eyebrows go up. “The story of a modern day Ulysses” – oh, my. Yes, the man who led soldiers to victory in the Trojan War, came up with the Trojan horse, and fought for years to get home to his wife – that’s exactly who I thought of while reading about Hollis, who did … nothing at all. And if you believe that you have clearly missed the strong tone of sarcasm I was using. Hollis would be lucky to be compared to Walter Mitty, with his lapses into alternate universes and personalities, but I hesitate to allow it here. Mitty – in the original Thurber story – had reasons to escape his dull life with his nagging wife. Hollis … just drifted in and out of his fantasies, escaping a life he found himself neck-deep in because he apparently didn’t have the volition to accomplish anything more or better.

The description also says that Warp is “Unlike other self-indulgent, whiny narratives of post-graduation angst”… Which is funny. I haven’t read many (any) such self-indulgent or whiny narratives, but Warp was pretty darned self-indulgent and angsty, and seemed simply too apathetic to be whiny. Hollis has wound up in his crappy apartment, which he can’t afford, with no job and no future and no prospects, purely because of self-indulgent lassitude. He’s a slug, an amorphous blob beginning to take the vague shape of a man.

I kept expecting something to happen – and when something did, I kept expecting it to change things somehow. But nothing did. Beginning to end, Hollis is an untethered balloon, and he’s apparently leaking air. I hope I wasn’t supposed to feel any sort of sympathy for him.

This wasn’t awful; I definitely didn’t love it, but it also didn’t actively make me want to quit. It also would not make me want to read The Magicians if I didn’t know better. Good marketing strategy, Lev Grossman’s publisher, to re-release this early work now. Well done.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.

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