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A Reader of Fictions: Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #1: So You Want to Be a Wizard

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sadie Hawkins Sunday Review #1: So You Want to Be a Wizard

So You Want to Be a Wizard
Young Wizards, Book 1

Author: Diane Duane
Pages: 386
Publisher: Graphia
Source: Own
Chosen by: Alexa Wang

Description from Goodreads:
Something stopped Nita's hand as it ran along the bookshelf. She looked and found that one of the books had a loose thread at the top of its spine. It was one of those So You Want to Be a . . . books, a series on careers. So You Want to Be a Pilot, and a Scientist . . . a Writer. But his one said, So You Want to Be a Wizard. I don't belive this, Nina thought. She shut the book and stood there holding it in her hand, confused, amazed, suspicious--and delighted. If it was a joke, it was a great one. If it wasn't . . . ?

First Sentence: "Part of the problem, Nita thought as she tore desperately down Rose Avenue, is that I can't keep my mouth shut."

Conveniently, the very first book chosen for me in my new regular posting series, Sadie Hawkins Sunday, just happened to be a book I already had in my personal collection. This series first came onto my radar when I was looking for readalikes for Harry Potter. I did enjoy this one (thanks Alexa!) and I'm glad I got a chance to dig into my massive collection of unread books.

The first thing that you should probably know is that this book was first published in 1983, long before Harry Potter. The book definitely does have quite a few similarities, and, those looking for Potter readalikes, might love this, but Duane was not one of the authors trying to ride Rowlings' success. I wonder if Rowling had read these, since certain things, like the villain being referred to as You-Know-Who were incredibly similar.

For all of that, though, So You Want to Be a Wizard reminds me much more heavily of Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. There is a lot of complicated vocabulary and scientific terminology within the pages of this book that would probably be targeted to a middle grade audience today. I mean, do you know what a 'temporospatial claudication' is? I sure don't. The science-y weirdness and good versus evil messages conveyed in this novel had me thinking constantly of L'Engle's classic work. In fact, I think that if you love A Wrinkle in Time, you really ought to check this series out. I loved A Wrinkle in Time when I was younger, but was not charmed by it particularly when I reread it. Science just really is not my thing, so I cannot appreciate a lot of what happens in either.

My favorite aspects of the book center around the power of the written word and love of books. There are a bunch of amazing quotes to that effect (check my favorite quote for one example). Plus, the whole concept is great. Every library has tons of those "So You Want to Be..." books, and I love how Duane built fantasy knowledge into such a seemingly simple thing.

Unfortunately, this clever device also serves as a method for info-dumping the ways of wizardry on the reader. Nita takes the library book home and devours it, attention rapt, but I did not find her reading the book nearly so enticing. This goes on for chapters. Duane tries to draw the reader in by including Nita's reactions to her reading, but these sections still dragged for me. I also feel like both Nita and Kit pick up their magical knowledge too quickly and easily. They read through their books once and can do a number of powerful spells after just a bit of practice. Plus, the spells are supposed to leave them tired, but they spend literally the last half of the book running around and doing spell after spell, even though one wiped them out the afternoon before.

As a reader, I just really struggle with books that don't place a focus on characterization. I would have loved to know more about Nita and Kit, and their daily lives. They're both clearly smart kids, and have both suffered from bullying. Rather than watching them go on a mission to retrieve Nita's stolen pen, which is really the quest of the book though it does snowball, I would have liked to see them have more personal growth, rather than just magical.

I'm really glad to have read this, because I can see how influential it has been on young adult literature, and I admire Duane for her creativity and her diverse characters. However, I do not plan to continue with the series, since I do not think I'm the ideal audience for these books. If you love A Wrinkle in Time, though, seriously, I think you will love this.

Rating: 3/5

Favorite Quote: "She loved any library, big or little; there was something about all that knowledge, all those facts waiting patiently to be found that never failed to give her a shiver. When friends couldn't be found, the books were always waiting with something new to tell."

Up Next:
The next Sadie Hawkins Sunday book will be Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson, chosen by Blythe Harris of Finding Bliss in Books!

Want to tell me what to read? Fill out THIS FORM with a book suggestion! For more details, check this post.

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Blogger Casey said...

The series goes downhill too. The first 3-4 are pretty good and fun but then, imo, they get wonky. I never read past that point.

December 30, 2012 at 1:10 PM  
Blogger Tanja - Tanychy said...

I feel like a stalker right now! I should first introduce myself and then recommend you the book, but well! I wasn't stalking I just saw this idea and it seemed pretty cool. So I recommended a book to you as I saw you haven't read it. :) It's my fave but :)

Anyway I hope you'll read it.

PS. I haven't read nor seen this book before, so thanks for sharing :)

December 30, 2012 at 1:20 PM  
Blogger Experiment BL626 said...

I read this series a long time ago. Casey is right; the series go downhill and gets wonky after a few volumes.

December 30, 2012 at 5:40 PM  
Blogger Jenni said...

Oh boo for the tedious reading the character does, but I am happy to see that you enjoyed this one overall. I had never heard of it before, and I haven't read the Harry Potter books either so I don't know if this is for me. Happy to see that Sadie Hawkins is a hit!

December 30, 2012 at 11:33 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

...that book looks so familiar. If I remember right it's the one a friend randomly picked up at the library and dared me to read in middle school. I borrowed it, but didn't last past the first chapter or something.

I forgot what my reaction to A Wrinkle in Time was, but I remembered a lot of my peers in 3rd or 4th grade liked it while I was like *yawn.* Yep, me and my patience thing again.

Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

December 31, 2012 at 7:23 AM  

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