Witch & Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet
October 2010, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Young Adult fantasy
The world is changing: the government has seized control of every aspect of society, and now, kids are disappearing. For 15-year-old Wisty and her older brother Whit, life turns upside down when they are torn from their parents one night and slammed into a secret prison for no reason they can comprehend. The New Order, as it is known, is clearly trying to suppress Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Being a Normal Teenager. But while trapped in this totalitarian nightmare, Wisty and Whit discover they have incredible powers they’d never dreamed of. Can this newly minted witch and wizard master their skills in time to save themselves, their parents–and maybe the world?
No one can dispute this: James Patterson is good at writing page-turners. I finished Witch & Wizard in less than two days– given, I was trapped backstage at a dress rehearsal and show at the time, but hey, reading is reading. Part dystopia, part classic fantasy, this book will appeal to a wide range of teen readers as a fast and fun thrill ride. There are some heavier topics thrown in there–individualism, “absolute power corrupts absolutely,” to name a few– but they are nothing new. These themes carry across every YA dystopia I can think of, from The Hunger Games to Across the Universe and back.
Readers will get a quick sense of character and will immediately care about what happens to Whit and Wisty. My heart was pounding from practically the first sentence, and it didn’t stop until the “Excerpts From New Order Propaganda” at the end, which offered a welcome respite from the death, destruction, and white-knuckle tension. On the surface, this was a great book. But long-time readers of this blog will know that almost nothing annoys me more than lack of originality in a novel. For one, did anyone else think that the Lost Ones were an awful lot like dementors? How about the whole “kids have the greatest power to save the world from evil”? I was reminded of one of my middle-grade favorites, The Mysterious Benedict Society. And I already mentioned the heaviness on themes that can be found almost anywhere.
For hard-core fantasy fans, this book is not the greatest. However, if you are not looking for new insight or mind-blowing imagination, just a fast-paced read to kick off the summer, and haven’t yet read this book, Witch & Wizard is worth a try.
Rating: 3.5 stars