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Warp: A Novel Paperback – November, 1997

2.6 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Paperback, November, 1997
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Fun, sassy, and sardonic in its opening pages, this first novel tells the story of Hollis, a recent Harvard grad who loves Star Trek reruns and hasn't a clue about what to do with the rest of his life: a timely dilemma, since he has just cashed in his last bank certificate, quit his job, and lost his girlfriend to a fancy firm downtown. Grossman has captured the real thing: a smart guy who doesn't know whether he should immerse himself in corporate culture. The writing is full of sly humor and the kind of erudite facts favored by recent graduates, along with a cynicism that only the young can sustain. Grossman is most successful in capturing voice (here meaning angst) and rendering great dialog. Too often, though, he interjects sf vignettes and snippets of dialog that could have been lifted from a medieval romance. In the book's major quest, Hollis and a buddy break into the house of a friend of the family, and the low stakes involved zap away all tension. Meanwhile, the charming, enigmatic Xanthe floats through the book, appearing (or not appearing, it's hard to tell which) at the oddest places. A fun take on life for the twentysomething crowd that doesn't quite succeed but offers entertaining moments.?Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, Ind.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

First novel from a twentysomething about twentysomethings in Boston. Star Trek aficionado Hollis went to Harvard, where he majored in Urban Studies. When asked what that is he says, ``I forget exactly. I think there was a large filmic component.'' He's a collection of clever remarks, and Grossman does not so much tell his story as take a snapshot of him during a time of indecision as he wanders through an evening and a night and a day in search of meaning. Hollis is a likable fellow, a smart-ass, though not malicious, always visualizing himself in Star Trek episodes; or as a noble knight-errant who must leave beautiful maidens behind as he goes off to serve the king; or as a brave little boy in a children's story, sailing out to capture a sea monster that has been terrorizing the village. Hollis is endlessly self-conscious, trying on different identities to see if one could possibly fit. In scenes with his friends, similarly educated and aimless, he offers some comic commentary, just as his idol, James Joyce, does in Ulysses. He has a sort of epiphany deep in the night, too: a meeting and quick sex with a punker named Xanthe. Then, during the day, he meets an old girlfriend, Eileen, who is actually working, and suggests that Hollis soon will be, too. And so he will, but not before more clever talk in bars, more hours before the tube, and some more daydreaming. Far gentler than Jay McInerney's Bright Lights, Big City. Despite the repeated references to Joyce, the style and subject here are far more reminiscent of the young Fitzgerald. Grossman can write, but sooner or later he'll have to find a subject. -- Copyright ©1997, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 183 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (November 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312170599
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312170592
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,756,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Blake Fraina VINE VOICE on July 20, 2016
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
If you’re a fan of Lev Grossman, this is kind of a must read. Mind you, it isn’t a particularly good book, nor does much happen in it. Okay, nothing really happens. It’s very much a pretentious, post-college type first novel. Truth be told, I’m surprised it even found a publisher because, while any sharp editor might recognize the potential here, it’s easy to see the author reaching for something that seems just beyond his grasp. Of course, if you’re familiar with his later works, you know he gets there eventually. And that’s precisely why it’s a must for fans of his Magicians trilogy - because the seeds of those epic and wonderful novels are on almost every page of Warp. So yeah, for that it gets four-stars.

In brief, it’s the story of Hollis Kessler, a glum, broke and unemployed college grad living in Boston who, along with his sardonic pal Peters, breaks into a mansion for a weekend of debauchery while the owners are away. They both smoke and drink a lot, discuss friends, former classmates and the various women in their lives and toss around a lot of nerdy film quotes. That’s pretty much it. Oh, and Hollis has a constant interior narration in response to what’s going on around him that consists of quotations from books and films (some easily recognizable, others not so much).

So much of what’s in this book ended up in the Magicians in some form or another – if Hollis is the prototype for the Magicians protagonist, Quentin Coldwater, than surely Peters is a nascent version of Elliot. Their whole dynamic, their geeky conversations and way of speaking - it's all there. The two breaking into the mansion owned by acquaintances of Peters vaguely recalls Elliot and Alice's struggle to gain access to the Physical Kids' cottage.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Warp is an almost perfect vacuum. Nothing can exist inside this vacuum unless it's inert and moving in no particular direction. For the better part of a weekend Hollis Kessler moves languidly through the motions of early adulthood with a few friends caught in the vacuum of existence with no forward motion. He senses he's adrift but he's unable to do anything about it except in his imagination where he lives a life of excitement and romance and great success. In real life his relationships fit into his almost perfect vacuum without disturbing the few remaining molecules and atoms at all.

Lev Grossman has captured self-disenfranchisement and the great gulf between motivated youth and something less than slacker youth, as slacker requires a definite commitment and presented us with what being adrift in those twixt and tween years can really be like. I love It!!! I was there when I was in college and that was fifty years ago! He's painted it perfectly and even though it's specific to it's time and place
it's also universal. And yet the novel has it moments of intrigue and mystery as well as a sense of fate and magical moments serendipitous in their occurance (a girl of course).

Mr. Grossman is the author of the highly successful The Magicians series and it is fascinating to witness the birth of the imagination that served him so well in his future endeavors. Everyone is focusing on the story as being the forerunner of a character in The Magicians (Quentin Coldwater) and it does reflect that character's development as an aspect of Grossman's own development at the time.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Although I read the entire new-to-the-2016-edition preface (the best part of the book), I still can't fathom why Lev Grossman wanted to re-release his first novel. Whereas The Magicians is a tightly-plotted epic set in a richly painted universe, Warp is a slice-of-life about aimless young Gen-Xers. The hook, according to the official synopsis, is that "there's another world going on in his [the protagonist's] 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." That "world" is, for the most part, quotations pulled from Star Trek and other sci-fi/fantasy canon that are interspersed with the prose. As to "telling him that it's time to stop dreaming and get serious"… well, if that ever happens, it happens some time after the events described in Warp. Our indifferent hero remains noncommittal to the very end.

I look forward to whatever Lev Grossman does next. But there's no reason to revisit this failed attempt at writing a Catcher in the Rye for the '90s.
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By A Customer on May 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
I'm not Lev Grossman and I liked the book. Actually I liked it a lot. It's sad and elegic and not very funny, but some of the scenes were honestly moving. Another thing was that the book had exactly the right length for what it was about. There's too many writers who fill too many pages with too little content. I'll definitely look out for more books by this guy. The episode with the punk girl sounded more like the author daydreaming though.
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