While I consider myself an avid reader, it takes a lot for a series to really pull me in and leave me wanting nothing more than to speed through it, just so I can read it again. Between reading for university, work, friends, relationship, and all the other responsibilities that come with life, a book really has to catch me from the start for me to validate spending my time on it. That’s the reason why I have absolutely nothing but the highest of praise for Scott Meyer’s Magic 2.0 series. The actor, comedian, and writer absolutely knocked it out of the park with this his series.
Seriously, if my bookshelf were Netflix, the Magic 2.0 series is fucking Futurama. It’s an absolute staple in my fiction/fantasy readings, and I’ve recommended it to anybody I talk to.
I’m an avid listener of Audible. It’s really the only way that I can knock out as many books as I do. And I know, some people are going to tell you that audiobooks are cheating, and it’s no substitute for reading the book, but we all take our shortcuts somewhere. That being said, I’m also incredibly stingy with my monthly credits. The service isn’t cheap, so I scour the reviews for every book I’m interested in, and look into the narrator as well as the author before every purchase.
That was not the case here.
I had just finished a two-month-long listen through of my backlog (mostly consisting of half-finished audiobooks that I felt guilty of every time I saw them), and had several months-worth of credit sitting in my account, so I took a gamble on Off to be the Wizard, going off of the only the 4.5 star rating on Audible.
God I wish I had bought it sooner.
For a non-spoiler recap of the book, here’s how things go down:
Martin is a twenty-something-year-old loner with an obsession for computers. He also has a bad habit of using his expertise to peruse files that maybe he shouldn’t be. While looking through a corporate computer system, Martin finds a .txt file that allows him to alter reality. Through continuous use of the file, Martin attracts the attention of the government, and must transport himself to Medieval England, posing as a powerful wizard, in order to avoid being taken prisoner. That’s where he discovers that he isn’t the only wizard in town.
That’s about as non-spoiler as I can get. I may post a spoiler version of my thoughts on the series at another time, but I’m not really writing this in order to dissect the series.
Partially because there isn’t a huge amount to dissect.
Magic 2.0 is a three-book series (for now), and each deals with a different storyline, seen through the eyes of the same cast of characters. The series is very straight-forward. If you’re expecting a Pratchett or a Gaiman style depth, you’re out of luck, but I think that adds to the charm of Meyer’s creation. There are many throwbacks to popular culture, including Dungeons and Dragons, Calvin and Hobbes, and of course Lord of the Rings—just three that I could think of off the top of my head. It reminds me of Ready Player One in that sense, but that’s about where the similarities end. The references in Magic 2.0 are meant to make you laugh and relate, rather than them being integral to understanding the story.
I began to pay particular attention to the way that Meyer wrote the dialogue between characters. It’s so natural and free-flowing. There wasn’t a single moment where I couldn’t see me and my particular group of friends saying the exact same thing in the same situation. He really is an expert when it comes to writing interactions between his characters, who are surprisingly well fleshed out considering the brevity of the books.
I can’t recommend this enough. It’s a light read, not meant to be taken seriously in a literary sense, but still deserving of far more attention than it’s gotten as of late. The humor was relatable, even for somebody who didn’t live through the 1980s (much of this book appears to target that generation). It’s also written at a PG-13 level, so swearing is at a minimum, and the toilet humor is there but it’s subtle (as Philip would say: “We don’t make the obvious joke.”). This is the kind of book I see a father and son bonding over. It’s made for both audiences.
So like I said, I found out about this book over Audible, so most of my experience was through the audiobook. If you’re like me and don’t have the time to sit down and read, you won’t miss a single thing by listening to it. In fact, I’m willing to state that the audiobook only enhances the experience. Luke Daniels is an incredible narrator. His comedic timing is absolutely perfect, and his voices are all distinct and incredibly fitting to each character.
Also, this book is one of the few that are apart of the “Kindle in Motion” experience. Basically, there are illustrations in the Kindle version of this book that are animated. I almost wish that the animations were done in 16-bit style, similar to the cover art, but we can’t have everything. I haven’t read through the Kindle in Motion version because it doesn’t work on my tablet, but I am very much a fan of the idea.
To sum things up: this series was immense fun. Off to be the Wizard, Spell or High Water, and and An Unwelcome Quest are the three so far, and Scott Meyer is currently developing a fourth part to the series titled: Fight and Flight. Until such time as we continue the adventures, I plan on reading Meyer’s other two novels released so far: Master of Formalities, and The Authorities.
In addition, I have seen that his wife Missy Meyer is an author herself, and has two novels that I’m aware of so far, which I intend to get on my Kindle as soon as my next paycheck rolls through.
What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear them.