Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Witch and Wizard by James Patterson & Gabrielle Charbonnet: What She Read Review offers 20% off used books
for Earth Day, so if you're going to get it, get it there.
Witch and Wizard is a young adult Collins-meets-Rowling page-turner.

The believable, sparky voices of our two first-person protagonists (and title characters) will definitely draw readers in, the uber-quick pacing with 2-3 page chapters, and the many punny references to current books, movies, and slang will make young, savvy readers smile.

From the title, one might misjudge the focus here, as Witch and Wizard is less Harry Potter, more Hunger Games dystopia w/magic bubbling beneath the surface.  In fact, it's more Maximum Ride than either, although The One Who Is The One is a shameless iteration of He Who Shall Not Be Named, as protagonists with special powers stretch their fledgling wings.
The plot? Wisty and Whit (soon, I imagine, to be played by Mylie Cyrus and Cory Monteith - when he's in his 30's and still looking the stud high school quarterback) are two lovably irreverent and gorgeous teens who are imprisoned by America's new totalitarian regime, only to discover that the hip woodsy outings and pacifist vibe their parents have been espousing all these years are nothing but Wicca warmed-over, and that they themselves have inherited the new Wicca 2.0 skill set.  As the siblings perform progressively more magical but unlikely feats of escape and survival, they - surprise! - become adept and increasingly powerful at their crafts, then set out to save all the kids of the world from the evil One Who Is The One and all his henchfolk.

It's a fast read, full of "What?  You expect us to swallow that?" moments:  Why are they allowed to bring a book and a drumstick into a top-security prison?  Where did they get the piece of wire and the Dixie cup?  Which one was Billy, and why did he betray them?  Why did the spell that turned him into a snipe wear off in an hour, but the one that turned her into a mole rat didn't wear off at all?  That sort of thing. 

And the shifting first person narrative can get annoying as it doesn't alternate by chapter and the siblings' voices aren't so very distinguishable sometimes, so you're a page into one of the many 2-3 page chapters here and then you realize:  Oh, it's Wisty, not Whit.

On the other hand, it definitely passes the time quickly and - for once in a recent YA read - there's no egregious sex or violence (though there's a bit of generic, non-graphic violence, to be sure.)

It reminds me of Gideon's Sword in this regard:  It's a mediocre effort from a major genre writer, but one that demonstrates strong knowledge of suspenseful screenwriting, enough so that it's palatable all the way through, despite all the major heavy-handed moralising, half-envisioned alternate dimensions, minor characters flitting in and out at all-too-opportune moments, inconsistencies, and predictability.

If you can overlook the above and want to while away a few hours in a fast-paced adventure or hope to entice a 'non-reader' into a novel that's more like an action flick on paper, it actually IS worth a try.


p.s.  Action:  Back to charting out my own YA novel, esp. since formula fiction seems to sell so well.  From this novel, it seems clear that one can't get sued for blatant copying of characters and plot points, so I'll make a list of books to model on, then at least sketch out setting, characters, conflicts for a book proposal or three.  For sure, it must be a series, right.


Sidne,the BCR said...

nope, i can't take this to my YA mentor group. I fear I will definite lose them. I will have to just mosey on by this one.

Laurie said...

I do have quite a few I could suggest to you, if you tell me a bit more about your mentor group... Sounds wonderful!

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