Witch & Wizard casts weak spell

Witch and Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Carbonnet; published by Little, Brown & Company, New York, 2009; 314 pages.

What a rude awakening!  Whit and Wisty (short for Wisteria) stumble out of bed (or off the couch, in Whit’s case) to discover New Order government militia in their home, their parents helpless against the invaders.  When the teens are taken away to N.O. prison, they are allowed to take one personal item each.  Mom gives Wisty a drumstick and Dad gives Whit a blank book.  What ensues are personal discoveries, daring escapes and the unfolding of a world that embraces censorship.  Are Wisty and Whit really a witch and wizard?  Which prophecy is true:  Will they die as traitors to the New Order or will they save the world?

Oh. My. Goodness.  This was horribly written, relying heavily on superior stories that preceded it.  Where have you heard this before?

The One (whose description is eerily like Lord Voldemort) tells Whit, “You have your mother’s eyes.” (page 34)

And the song-spells were reminiscent of the songs in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit.  Beyond the blatant use of devices better written by others, the voices of the teenagers are horrible.  Whit’s dialog and descriptions emasculate rather than endear.  We are constantly told what a hot jock he is, but he cries a lot (even though it’s about the loss of a girlfriend, I found it too contrived under the circumstances) and his “voice” is a mish-mash of formal and an adult take on teen-speak.  Wisty’s dialog is even more obviously based on what an adult far removed from teens thinks is teen-speak.  It was so bad in the first few chapters that I almost put the book down!  And my last criticism is that there is virtually no substance to the plot.  It is almost all action, perhaps intended to distract the reader from the lack of substance.  Did the N.O. really take power overnight, with no one noticing?!  Where are the rich descriptions of these other-worlds?  When did books and music disappear?  Did no one protest?  Looking for answers to these and many other questions were a big distraction that the action could not compensate for.

I read this book in part because I am desperate for a series to fill the Harry Potter void of magic with a message.  This is not that book.  I am sure part of it’s popularity (this library copy is well worn) is that the publisher offered free downloads of the e-book on Amazon.com and through Facebook advertising.  It was, after all, among YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten nominees.  So, I won’t discount the book’s appeal; dystopia is popular.  And, maybe, it would be a good book to read and discuss during Banned Books Week.  I can imagine pulling the books that the N.O. has banished (they are thinly veiled references to popular works, old and new) and covering them with the titles attributed in Witch and Wizard then let the young adults figure out what they are.  References to museums and artists/musicians are also included at the back of the book; a passive program/contest could easily be developed around that.

This was so bad I won’t pick up the sequel.  I don’t care what happens to any of the characters or to our world, unless the titles referred to in the banned list are really pulled from library and bookstore shelves.  Then I might read the next installment.

Now I am even less likely to pick up the Maximum Ride series.  Anyone think I should try it?

4P     2Q     Grade Level: 8-10 (They’re the only age group that may be lacking the sophistication or experience to recognize the poor writing.)

Cover Art: The faces in the flaming W are interesting and certainly foreshadow the book’s plot.  It’s a bit reminiscent of The Awakening so fans of the Quantum Prophecy series may jump on this book.

From Reading List: Teens’ Top Ten nominee 2010; The Way It Could Be (Science Fiction or Fantasy)


RSS Braingle’s Teasers

  • Today's Daily Brain Teaser (Jun 18, 2019)
    The Last Stand General Custer is surrounded by Indians and he's the only cowboy left. He finds an old lamp in front of him and rubs it. Out pops a genie. The genie grants Custer one wish, with a catch. He says, "Whatever you wish for, each Indian will get two of the same thing." Custer ponders a while and thinks:"If I get a bow and arrow […]