Friday, September 23, 2016

ARC Review: Warp by Lev Grossman

Title: Warp
Written by: Lev Grossman
Published: September 20, 2016 by St Martin's Press
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: The lost literary origin story of #1 bestseller Lev Grossman - including a new foreword about how and why he wrote his first novel: "It is the intense, concentrated, boiled-down essence of the unhappiest years of my life." 

Twenty-something Hollis Kessler languishes in a hopelessly magician-less world (with the exception of a fleet-footed nymph named Xanthe) not too far from where he graduated college. His friends do, too. They sleep late, read too much, drink too much, talk too much, and work and earn and do way too little. But Hollis does have an obsession: there's another world going on in his head, a world of excitement and danger and starships and romance, and it's telling him that it's time to stop dreaming and get serious. 

 This re-publication of Lev Grossman's debut novel, Warp, shows the roots of his Magicians hero Quentin Coldwater in a book that is for anyone (and everyone) who has ever felt adrift in their own life.

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher at BEA. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

Well, I wanted something different and that's definitely what I found here. I'm not sure how I would judge this book on it's own merit but as a fan of Lev Grossman's work I think it was pretty good.

For one thing, this is a book about nothing. And I really mean nothing. It is perhaps the most extreme slice of life kind of story I have ever read. It's a few days in the life of a guy in his early twenties as he flounders around life drinking, smoking, and making incredibly questionable choices with his friends. And that's about it. There is no cohesive plot, no real plot development at all, and no resolution. I should not have liked that, but despite the fact that I found myself thinking more than once "is there even a plot to this book" it kind of worked. Because you know what, this book isn't trying to have a plot. It's a book about nothing and that is so freaking 90's so yeah, it worked.

This characters of this book just kind of existed, much in the way the plot does. Hollis Kressler is the main character and kind of a stereotypical slacker. He's barely making it through life but your guess is as good as mine as to how. He just sort of exists, going through the motions and making questionable decisions. But he does have this really active imagination. He's constantly thinking narrating his life and imagine outlandish things to keep him from totally connecting with the real world. But honestly that made him relatable to me. It's a book about a guy who doesn't know what he wants but knows that it's not this and he's probably just going to keep doing what he's doing. And yeah, I get that. Same.

This is Lev Grossman's debut and it's supposed to be the book that influenced The Magicians trilogy. I'm a big fan of The Magicians. You can see a lot of Quentin in Hollis. They have the same kind of pessimism and escapist mentality. You can also see Grossman's writing style as he was trying to craft it. It has that same kind of highfalutin overt literary prose. Not to mention that he continues to play with the tropes and our expectations, just this time he does it with contemporary novels.

I also think this book has a pretty good nostalgia factor going for it. For one thing the Boston setting had me missing New England but more than that, this book is distinctly 90's. Yes, this book is a reprint of something that was originally written in 1997 so that shouldn't really be a surprise. It's references and even tone feels very 90's. I wouldn't really call this historical fiction but I would say that you should read this through the 90's lens. So maybe put on your round colored-lens sunglasses before you read it. But I think that added to it's charm because the 90's are back so good timing.

Warp is a short and interesting read. It's not my typical read and therefore was the perfect palate cleanser. There isn't much plot here but with interesting characters and a nostalgic setting I enjoyed it.

I give Warp by Lev Grossman 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow/Buy. This I would say is a must read for fans of Lev Grossman and The Magicians trilogy. But even if you aren't a fans and you are looking for something to fill your need for 90's nostalgia or want a book with a slice of life kind of feel check this out.

Have you read Warp? What did you think? Are you a fan of The Magicians trilogy and planning to read this one? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Nope. I'll pass. I can't handle a book about nothing. :)

    1. Yeah, I didn't think I would be able to either but it was a good palate cleanser from the more plot driven stuff I've been reading lately. If you like Lev Grossman's writing style give it a try. It might surprise you.