I’m pretty sure I just didn’t get it. I caught some of the references to the Harry Potter and Narnia books. Perhaps if I was more well-versed in the fantasy genre, I would have liked this book more, or at least appreciated it a bit. Since I am not too experienced with the fantasy genre (I’ve only read 4/7 Harry Potters and I’m sure I read all of the Narnia books. . . a long time ago), I found the book just tiresome and, at times, just sloppy.
Perhaps one of Grossman’s character’s says it best: “This isn’t a story. It’s just one fucking thing after another” (299). Grossman’s probably just being ironic there, but at almost 300 pages into the novel, I just didn’t care. The quotation does speak to Grossman’s plotting, though. I’d call it random and incoherent (for the most part). As for the expletive, sorry if it offended you, but it raises another issue — Grossman’s apparent desperation to shock us. This is not, he seems to want to make clear, Narnia or Hogwarts. So we get swearing a-plenty and sex, much of it gratuitous. We get the point. Or maybe I don’t; I don’t know.
The ending is, in my view, cynical. How about earning a sequel rather than just setting up for one? Again, if Grossman is parodying the genre, by that point, I’d lost interest.