You know sometimes that you are out of tune with lots of other readers? This is one of those books for me: I know that lots of people like it - there's even a TV production being made by syfy channel for early 2016 - but I'm afraid I mainly disliked it, a lot.
The problem for me is that although I think I can see what Grossman was trying to do here - it's particularly a deconstruction of the idea of secondary worlds as an escape from reality - I found the protagonist, and most of his friends, so completely unpleasant that I just didn't care.
Look, I'm not someone who needs all their lead characters to all be kind and nice - I really enjoy Joe Abercrombie's books for example - but there was just some ultimately really repulsive about Quentin. I didn't start off strongly disliking him; in fact in the first few chapters I actually found him reasonably sympathetic - although I quickly found myself thinking 'This guy is obviously suffering from depression and really should be getting some professional help.' I found the sections set in the magical school a bit so so (did anyone else find themselves thinking of The Sword in the Stone during the training trip to Antarctica?), but it was really the post-school part that had me developing a burning dislike for most of the characters. I hated the hypocracy of Quentin's reaction to Alice sleeping with Penny after Quentin sleeps with Janet - I know that part of his anger is explicitly because he knows that he is on shaky moral ground, but that didn't make it any better to sit through. And I really didn't like the ending; not so much the fact he ends up voluntarily getting set up in the most mundane job possible (where he doesn't actually have to do any work, you notice), but the fact that he ends up being 'rescued' from it by his friends.
But it really presses some of my 'nope' buttons: Quentin is a 'poor little rich boy' who never really seems to take any responsibility for anything ("I have everything I ever wanted so why am I still not happy?" I dunno, could it be because you're a selfish arsehole?) and once again it's a story in which everyone else has to do the emotional 'heavy lifting', a trope that I'm getting a bit tired of at the moment (I've always enjoyed the TV series Castle, but we are giving up on it after this year because Castle never stops being a typical 'man-child' character and everyone around him is has to do the being an emotional grown-up so he can continue not to have to.) I also never feel that Quentin really learns anything from what has happened (reading the description of the second book in the trilogy doesn't make me feel particularly confident that he does grow up.)
So while I appreciate that some of the things I disliked about the book are what the book is supposed to be about, I just found it unpleasant. I suppose it's possible that I may have got more out of it had I been reading it when I wasn't suffering from anxiety... But I don't feel any urge to read the sequels, though is it hypocritical of me to still be interested in seeing how the TV version works? Mainly because there's some stuff in the book that I think is going to be very tricky to translate onto the screen!